The title of this writing is “Normale’s conversion”. I am going to share with you how I moved from being totally against spending so much money on an Elevator to being totally for spending the money.
I was against us spending so much money “on ourselves” because there are so many deserving outreach ministries that need our money. One morning, I was thinking and praying about the Elevator Proposal when I had a big change in attitude. To put it in a biblical context I would call what happened a “road to Damascus” experience. To put it in other terms you could say I had a complete shift in my “paradigm”. Whatever, the name you would use, my mind and heart were transformed about spending money on an elevator and sound system.
When Columbia was first conceived, one of its most important goals was that it be inclusive. During that time discrimination was rampant with white people and black people not allowed to live in the same neighborhoods. Inclusive then meant including all races. Now in Columbia we have people of all races living side by side and we are enriched by the experience.
Today we have another group who are victims of our discrimination: the aging and people with disabilities. In the past, these people were integrated into their families. But now we have a new system in which they live together often separate from the rest of the community. And we can ignore them and feel no guilt since the cost of inclusion seems so great. We tuck them away neatly and seldom invite them to interact with us. It’s true, the places we “tuck” them are often lovely places to live so it is easier for us to feel no guilt at keeping them separated from us AND we are still creating an “us” and them.
To be in touch with the aging and disabled people calls us to face into our own mortality and that reality is uncomfortable for many of us.
One way we at KC keep aging and disabled people out of our sight and out of our minds is by not making our worship space accessible to them and another way is by not having a sound system that works well enough for decreased hearing. To have worship space that is not accessible to all of God’s people is to create an “us” and a “them” and to create an “us” and a “them” separates us from the great Oneness of God’s creation.
I see the elevator and improved sound system as a way of inviting the aging and disabled members of our Christian family to fully participate in our worship experience. Our community is good about welcoming all races and creeds to share our building, it is very exciting that now we will be including those who have different abilities to walk and hear. We will surely be blessed by the people who use our new elevator and sound system to join us in worship and share their faith journey with us.