I was very disturbed to read recent news accounts of the church in Minnesota that has banned an autistic child from church activities. While I appreciate their desire for order, I think they were misguided in their decision. It seems that they have fallen to the temptation to serve those that are easy. I believe that we must embrace an uncomfortable call to serve those that fit easily within the bounds of our ministries, but also those that are uncomfortable. Some are uncomfortable for us because they come from the “fringes” of culture. Others are uncomfortable because they bring complex emotional or medical issues to bear. These are the very kind of people that were an every day part of Jesus’ ministry. Instead of finding ways to exclude people from the bounds of our touch, we need to unapologetically claim the uncomfortable call to extend our hands and our hearts in Jesus’ name. Our church claims an autistic child as a part of our family. He is not a problem or a nuisance. While he and his family face unique challenges, he is equally created in the image of God as any other child in our church. I am inspired when I watch the love that he parents offer him. I am touched as I see the care our teachers invest in him. We are consistently looking for ways to where we can offer better quality of ministry and support for him and his family. The annual Walk for Autism is coming soon to our city. I am hopeful that many in our congregation will leverage the many ways you can support the walk. You might want to see when it is scheduled in your community. This might be one of the ways your congregation can show your support for families in our community dealing with autism. You can find out more at http://www.walknowforautism.org/. I would encourage you to look for this and other ways your church can be a resource of love and support rather than exclusion.
Grace and Peace, Tom