Monday, July 6, 2015

“It is only as we meet and share together person-to-person, eye-to-eye, and heart-to-heart that we discover what it means to be human and to discover the joy of being together, working together towards a common mission of peace and unity.” Jean Vanier, Catholic theologian and disability advocate

One of my latest fascinations is finding ways that we as a community can gather todiscover the “joy of being together” despite our geographical constraints and limited financial resources. Our reality and modern technology gives us the pleasure of building a sense of togetherness phone call-to-phone call, Facebook post-to-Facebook post, email-to-email.

It’s been a joy to discover who you are as you share digital prayers on our Facebook page, celebrate ministry anniversaries and share your favorite Bible verses in our fledgling Facebook group. It’s also been a privilege to visit with you all during conference calls, where you shared your joys, your fears, your hopes and your concerns for the ministry that is Rejoicing Spirits.

That sense of togetherness and humanity spills out of you all in the work you do for Rejoicing Spirits, your individual faith communities and the church as a whole. It has shaped the theme for the interactive exhibit Mosaic and Rejoicing Spirits is presenting at the 2015 Youth Gathering of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) in Detroit: “Together, we are the church.”

God’s call for God’s people to gather together for worship, community and service is a right and privilege that is too often denied to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. We know that God sees and loves all people, but the church as a whole doesn’t have the best track record when it comes to welcoming people with disabilities.

Historically there has been a mistaken belief that people with intellectual disabilities do not have the capacity to lead lives of faith. We know this is simply not true. We also know that ensuring people with disabilities can share their spiritual gifts and express their spirituality transforms our faith communities, our lives and our world, in both digital and physical spaces.

In Detroit we will share your stories, alongside the stories of the people Mosaic serves across the country, person-toperson, eye-to-eye, heart-to-heart and hashtag-to-hashtag. We hope you will join us in digital community, regardless of your denomination, by sharing a Facebook post, an Instagram post or a tweet with the following words, your photo and hashtag.

Churches need the spiritual gifts of people with disabilities. We are not whole without them. #MosaicPossible

In Christ,

Carrie Gubsch

Communications Specialist

*Jean Vanier is a Catholic theologian and disability advocate who founded L’Arche, an organization that enables people with and without disabilities to share their lives in communities of faith and friendship. The quote comes from his acceptance speech for the 2015 Templeton Prize, which honors a living person who has made an exceptional contribution to affirming life’s spiritual dimension, whether through insight, discovery, or practical works. Learn more about Vanier at