“Like living stones, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house….to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”

1 Peter 1:5

“I wonder who we might welcome in the future…”.

“No matter who you are or where you are on life’s journey, you are welcome here”

Sainted former Moderator of our church, Tom Eaker, God rest his soul, once granted my request to use fellowship hall as a meeting place for a Toastmaster’s group that included wheelchair bound members. Thank you, Tom, for that and much more.

For the better part of 20 years, we met as a group downstairs. I became qualified to transport and assist these individuals. This included tending to personal care needs.

There was a woman who I helped regularly. Getting her wheelchair into Fellowship Hall was easy because the entrance is at ground level, but the bathroom area was tight quarters. We negotiated the tight turn by stepping on her wheelchair’s tilt bar, raising the front of the chair, and pivoting it on its rear tires. Still, we could only get so close to the toilet. So, we would get as close as we could and lock the brakes and unfasten her seat belt. I would get in front of her, she would put her arms around my neck, and she would stand. Luckily, she could stand. Slowly, carefully, inch by inch we would make our way to the toilet and back. Exchanging wisecracks and poetry along the way.

A unifying factor among our wheelchair bound members was that they had an acquired head injury or spinal cord injury. For one person we gave a platform for her to speak when she literally had no voice, at least until she received her mechanical talker machine. The process used cards with different words printed on them. The audience would get the right word by eliminating the wrong words on that card. I was so proud of the respect, silence, and time her audience gave her in anticipation of her speech or talk.

This was before any talk about improving accessibility that I knew of. Still, I appreciated that our church saw our Toastmasters group as an important ministry to our wider community. Other than our awkward struggles to get to the bathroom, it was a great place to hold our meetings. We made the most of what we had.

Now that we are "Building to Share," I wonder who we might accommodate (with God's extravagant welcome!) in the future.

Pete Lane

External link opens in new tab or window    External link opens in new tab or window  https://youtu.be/taOJWc9t7Bg