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Wednesday, 18 February 2015

On not getting to church from a reader...

Your  experience of  ecclesial isolation due to lack of transport is sadly not uncommon. back in the early 2000’s one of the large US Conferences conducted a survey of its members with vision impairment that prevented them from driving. Only 20%, yes, twenty percent of individuals surveyed who wished to attend church regularly were actually able to do so due to lack of transport. I daresay this experience could be replicated across various disability groups and geographically isolated individuals trans-denominational in instances where safe,  regular and reliable quick public transport is not in existence – even in comparisons with getting to church in NYC as opposed to suburban, urban and upstate NY. One or two more forward thinking congregations I had been involved with acquired a minibus and bused in parishioners, the drivers being reliable volunteers. Other instances, I received rides but was considered the burden. I've mentioned it before and I’ll mention it again. NO or EF, the most welcoming church will be that with the most number of persons with disability in attendance, especially those without transport/those needing accommodations to  participate in church life. In a twist of irony, the wealthier the church, the less helpful/accommodating/welcoming its membership, especially in the Anglo-sphere (I can attest to this across three  denominations including two Catholic rites. If I’d had  no husband to take me to the EF on occasion, the chances are that I would not have gotten there at all; priests wonderful, parishioners, only a handful even talked to me and one trad lad almost fell to pieces at the prospect of guiding me through the maze that was the church’s entrance into its courtyard and into the church. I had to press him into service to actually guide me – him holding my sleeve tentatively as though he’d scald himself. On the other hand, Fr. ..... on the odd occasion he guided me, guided me properly and was happy to do so, also a very effective guide and all-round excellent gentleman. When those who sat on their hands rather than giving you a ride receive their ashes today your time, I wonder what they’ll think when exhorted to ‘Repent and believe the Gospel’.