A CHURCH THAT WELCOMES ALL
25th October 2017
On Sabbath 23 September, 2017 all were welcome to Winson Green Seventh-day Adventistchurch in Birmingham, irrespective of age, gender, nationality, ability or status. This was the designated date for the North England Conference (NEC) Parenting Seminar, which was a collaborative effort between the Children's Ministries, Health Ministries, Disability Ministries and Women's Ministries departments. It amounted to a truly wonderful intergenerational worship experience as children's choirs from Camp Hill, Wednesbury and Wolverhampton Central led the congregation in praise and worship to God.
The service was signed by Ayo-Ola McKenzie. Guest speakers Nigel and Sophia Nicholls, were the main speakers. Sophia Nicholls is the South England Conference Disability and Diversity director. Sophia and her husband Nigel are co-founders of the Adventist Special Needs Association (ASNA). Their ministry allowed us to share their journey which began twenty-one years ago, when they were gifted with this ministry through the birth of their son Matthew who was born without sight and subsequent learning disabilities. This gift has taken them on a journey where they have experienced and continue to experience joy, inspiration and many challenges.
They wanted to encourage families living with disabilities, whilst inspiring and sensitising those without disabilities to see the opportunities waiting to be taken in ministry with people living with disabilities and special needs.
Nigel delivered a moving sermon entitled 'Kingdom Values'. He shared that "It took Matthew with his eyes closed for their eyes to be opened to the fact that just around the corner, just in our church, next door to you there is someone who needs to know about the love of God and we are not providing the means or access for them to do so."
The moral test of 'Kingdom Values' could be summed up by the quote from Hubert Humphrey, "the moral test of government is how that government treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the elderly; and those who are in the shadows of life, the sick, the needy and the disabled." Once we have completed this test, we would have passed by showing kindness and not pity.
Judith Asare commented on how moved she was by the seminar. She stated, "I was delighted that such programmes are being organised, where we may hear from personal experience. We need it, this is wonderful!"
During the Sabbath School, the children were overjoyed as they were treated to the story of the wise and foolish builders, by Pastor Patricia Douglas. Zoe and Javan where amazing actors. Pastor Cyril Sweeney caused all to think carefully about what it really meant to be wise or foolish builders. Even the announcement of the offering presented Grace Walsh with the opportunity to pull out armour, one of the children dressed up to illustrate what it means to be clothed in the armour of God. But it did not end there as the children were also taught the importance of treating each other in a kind loving way, during the worship service. The story was told by Janet Taylor and Jennifer Munroe-Dinham, who shared the story of Mephibosheth, the son of Jonathan who was unable to walk, but who was loved by King David, who treated him very kindly and made him feel special. They shared with the children that most importantly he was loved by God.
The afternoon programme consisted of a choice of 4 workshops: 1. Disability Awareness 3; 2. Your Child's Health; 3. Parenting Solo; and 4. Arts & Craft.
Sharon Pryce accompanied by her fellow Children's Ministries core team, prepared the arts and crafts time where the children unleashed their creativity. In the plenary session hosted by Sophia Nicholls, the audience was encouraged to discuss what disability meant to them. This was followed in the next session with a discussion on the barriers of interacting with individuals with disabilities.
NEC Sabbath School and Women's Ministries director, Beulah Plunkett, presented the Solo Parenting workshop, where she explored important areas of need for solo parents to help and equip them as they grow through the stages of their child's development from childhood through to adulthood. Solo parents were overjoyed that their needs were being addressed.
NEC Disability Ministries and Health Ministries director Grace Walsh presented, 'Your Child's Health'. In this workshop she looked at CELEBRATIONS, an acronym for 12 healthful living principles. 1. Choices, 2. Exercise, 3. Liquid, 4. Environment, 5. Belief, 6. Rest, 7. Air, 8. Temperance, 9. Integrity, 10. Optimism, 11. Nutrition, 12. Social Support. This entire philosophy of CELEBRATIONS involves parents and children making choices backed by evidence-based information. This is the synopsis of what is called the Adventist Lifestyle. The human body operates according to specific laws. By understanding and following these laws, children will experience the best possible health regardless of their status or condition. The CELEBRATIONS acronym explains these natural laws of health.
We praise God for the blessing of such a wonderful day, the touching ministry of the Nicholls family ‒ it was a joy to see just how much Matthew enjoyed the day. We thank God for His great love, to us all and thank Him for the gift of family, where we may experience the warmth of an embrace, laughter and the security of knowing that we belong. We must all rise to the challenge of creating churches for all people.
"See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are." 1 John 3:1-2.
[Pastor Patricia Douglas and Nydia John]