I have a challenge for you. Some Sunday morning take a close look around the sanctuary. Note who is there. Note who isn't there. Now ask yourself why.
Why do we come? Why don't others come? How do we ensure that the people who come occasionally feel that they too are a part of the community? These are key questions as we look forward to the church of the next 100 years.
And of course there are many answers to those questions. But one of them, for some people, is the building itself. No matter how welcoming our words sound if the building itself provides a barrier then people will not feel welcome. If the building keeps some people from being able to participate fully in the life of the community then they will not feel welcome.
And so there are certain things that become mandatory for the health of the community. Not optional, not nice additions, but mandatory parts of how we operate.
One is to aid those of us (and it happens earlier and earlier in each generation) whose hearing is not what it once was. I am happy to announce that at the last Council meeting we agreed to order an FM system of Assisted Listening Devices. When the system arrives I will be happy to help people learn how it works.
Another big one is the lift. The lift that has been talked about here since the CE wing was built in 1987. The lift that is described in minutes of that era as an obligation. At our Annual meeting this year we will launch the campaign to start renovating the building. This will allow us to add a lift and to create an accessible washroom. Will this cost money? Yes. But it is no longer an option. If we are to be a fully welcoming inclusive part of God's community then we have to spend the money to get us there.
Being the community of God is challenging sometimes. It is tempting to think that “now is not the right time” for a project. But there is always a reason to put things off. Fortunately there is a stronger reason to not (other than the fact that the longer we wait the more it will cost). We do what we do because God is calling us to do it. God calls us to make our building serve our needs, God is calling us to broaden our community. Assisted Listening systems and accessibility projects are a part of that. And so, may God be with us as we move into an new and fuller understanding of what it means to be welcoming and inclusive of all.