Living Fully: a celebration of disability, culture and faith
National disability and community engagement charity ‘Livability’ is taking part in ‘Living Fully’ a conference celebrating the lives of disabled people, culture and faith. Held in Rome, the event is being co-patroned by the Catholic Pontifical Council for Culture.
The conference will bring a range of delegates and speakers together to explore the strengths, experiences and needs disabled people bring to the church. A community focused event, the conference will facilitate discussion and learning amongst disabled people, families, campaigners and theologians together. The event has received endorsements from disabled people, families and prominent theologians, including Professor Stanley Hauerwas and Roy McCloughery who will attend at the event.
The event will be three conferences in one: an academic symposium for theologians, a conference for families and practitioners to share their stories, and a creative stream for people with intellectual disabilities.
The aim is to explore how the lives of disabled people can be celebrated and recognised within a culture of belonging. Sessions will focus on creating space for stories to be celebrated and shared and positively shifting attitudes, to eradicate a culture of exclusion. The aim is to create a network of people sharing ideas, insights, stories and research.
The event is organised by disability campaigner Cristina Gangemi. Cristina works for ‘Livability’ in engaging the voice and experiences of the people we support and is also the Director of the Kairos Forum.
On sharing the aims of the conference, Cristina Gangemi said: “Disabled people face all kinds of barriers that prevent them from accessing so many parts of life. Disabled people rarely have the opportunity to tell the stories of their lives. They are often either ignored, silenced, or someone speaks for them. It’s tragic that still this is true of churches; places where everyone should be welcomed and valued. This conference brings disabled people together with theologians and Church leaders from around the world to discuss how disabled people can take their place in the heart of the local church. Together we will learn from each other, sharing best practice, as well as encouragement.”
During the event, ‘Livability’ will be drawing from ground breaking work it has done over the years to build awareness for disability in the UK church. Livability’s ‘Churches Inc’ charter and ‘Everybody Welcome’ training helps churches become more welcoming and inclusive. Attendees will be invited to sign the Livability charter and take that back to their church communities. An academic statement will also be put on the website of the Pontifical Council for Culture.
Mat Ray, Livability’s Head of Church Partnerships said: “Making the community more inclusive and livable for the people we support is essential to Livability. Churches have a massive role in helping that happen in their locality and we hope that the conference will make a real impact on the Catholic church and beyond. Our prayer is that Christians from different backgrounds, denominations and nationalities will catch a vision for a church where everyone is valued and everyone belongs.”
Living Fully takes place on 24th-26th June, 2016.
For more information go to www.livingfully2016.com