Developing a Sense of Belonging in Faith Communities
Sarah Hall, PhD, FAAIDD
Institute on Community Integration, University of Minnesota
My oldest brother, Charlie, has multiple disabilities. Growing up, he loved to swing, listen to music, hum "Silent Night" year-round, and eat donuts at church. When Charlie was no longer welcome to attend Sunday school because of his differences, we switched to a church where my mom could teach him individually in their supply room.
Differences can be difficult to understand. That is why I love the collaborative work of the AAIDD Religion and Spirituality Interest Network. The steering committee values diverse voices from a variety of faith traditions and reaches out to learn from them by inviting them to speak and join our group. Last year, we hosted the Black Lives with IDD and Their Faith Communities webinar series and the Including People with IDD in Faith Communities forum. This year, we want to really connect the disability field with faith communities through a webinar series featuring speakers from diverse faith traditions about ways to support belonging in situations where it can be challenging.
This work highlights the need for a greater connection and collaboration between disability and faith communities to support inclusion. It’s all about belonging – for my brother and anyone with diverse abilities, cultures, and faith traditions.