Yesterday, our Vestry voted to move forward with plans to add a handicapped-accessible restroom to our parish hall. This is a major step toward making our building more available to those with physical handicaps, and reveals some of the values we cherish as Christians and as the community of faith which is Christ Church. It sends a message to our larger community about the importance of including people with disabilities within our Christ Church family.
On July 26, 1990 President George Bush signed “the world’s first comprehensive declaration of equality for people with disabilities”: the Americans with Disabilities Act. In his speech, Bush said that despite the Civil Rights Act of 1964, people with disabilities were still victims of segregation and discrimination. He closed his remarks by invoking the Declaration of Independence when he said, “Today’s legislation brings us closer to that day when no Americans will ever again be deprived of their basic guarantees of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
Churches of a certain size were exempt from the legal requirements of that Act. But we are not exempt from the teachings and example of Jesus, who gave special attention to the more vulnerable among us. Now, 24 years after President Bush signed that Act, we are taking steps to remove barriers that have kept many of God's children with physical handicaps from taking part in the life of our community. The members of Christ Church have always considered ourselves to be a very welcoming community, and this step is a natural outgrowth of the strong value we place on being welcoming!