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  • Writer's pictureTom Emanuel

ACCESS + INCLUSION... This Week at UCC Watertown

Disability rights activists in San Francisco, 1977

“Diversity is being invited to the party; inclusion is being asked to dance.” –Verna Myers

This past Sunday I preached about encountering God in the places we least expect to find Him/Her. And last Friday, I got an unexpected “God moment” myself at the Watertown High School homecoming parade. I played flute in marching band, and I still love to cheer on young flutists and clarinetists and sousaphonists on Game Day. As I watched the parade go by, I noticed one of the percussionists being wheeled along in a wheelchair in formation. It made my heart happy to see the band including their differently-abled classmate like that.

Economist, Unitarian Universalist minister, and disability advocate Dr. Isabel Call likes to point out that we are all “temporarily able-bodied.” (Spoiler: Dr. Call is also a dear friend.) We don’t often think about how a homecoming parade might exclude those who find it difficult to march. Yet things that we temporarily able-bodied folk take for granted may present obstacles to our differently-abled siblings. Jesus teaches us that when we welcome those who are routinely excluded—when we accept them just as they are and make space for their unique abilities and contributions—we become heralds of the Kin-dom of God. In that light, seemingly small gestures of inclusion like the one I witnessed at last week’s parade become signs of the Kin-dom “on earth as it is in heaven.”

My invitation to us this week is to look for ways in which we can more fully welcome those who are different from us, particularly where physical ability is concerned. Let’s pay attention to the ways in which our spaces---our homes, our churches, our workplaces—are physically (in) accessible. Let’s pay attention to our words, like how we use lame to describe something “un-cool.” I’m as guilty of this as anybody: in my prayer before I preach, I often say, “Open our eyes that we may see, open our ears that we may hear.” Perhaps I should tweak my language to be more inclusive!

May we be attentive this week to the ways in which our routines unintentionally exclude others. May we be attentive to the Spirit who shows up when we open ourselves to different ways of thinking and being and doing. And may we learn to love as Jesus loved and include others as he included: without condition, without exception.

Blessin’s, --Tom

QUESTIONS FOR THE WEEK: Where do you see signs of the “Kin-dom of God” in your day-to-day life? How can we be more welcoming of our differently-abled siblings?


Wednesday 9/19

· Community Office Hours will take place Wednesday 9/19 instead of Thursday 9/20, as Tom will be attending a meeting.

· Wednesday Church, 6pm (dinner followed by worship and classes for kids)

· UCCW Choir, 7pm

Thursday 9/20

· Tom will be attending the PLA Clergy and Executive Comm. meeting  at 10:30 a.m. at Redfield UCC

Friday 9/21

· Prophetic Imagination Conference: Pastor Tom will be out of the office today, 9/21 attending the "Prophetic Imagination 2018" conference at Plymouth Congregational UCC in Minneapolis.

Sunday 9/23

· Adult Bible Study, 8:45am

· Worship, 10am

·  Book Study, 4pm (Tom’s Office)

Monday 9/24

·   Newsletter deadline, submit reports, messages, or news items.

Wednesday 9/26

· Sheltered Reality: 6pm in the Labyrinth Garden.   A motivational drum group will perform as part of Wednesday Church.   A picnic meal will be served. Invite your friends!

Sunday 9/30

· College Students who want to apply for the Betty Erling Scholarship here is the URL link,  It is a Google Form.  Applications are due by the end of September.  It is a $500 scholarship which is renewable up to 4 years

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