Workshop Centers on Creating Faith Communities that Welcome Those with Disabilities

Hartford Seminary’s Meeting Room was filled to capacity on Monday, Oct. 7, 2019, for an event called “Inclusive Voices: Welcoming People with Disabilities.”

The four-hour workshop was a collaboration between the Seminary and UConn’s Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities. It was coordinated by a Hartford Seminary alum, Candace Low ’18, a longtime disabilities rights advocate and principal of Candace Low Consulting Services.

Participants heard from Hartford Seminary President Joel N. Lohr, and then from the Rev. Bill Gaventa, who gave a keynote titled “When All God’s People Finally Show Up: From Inclusion to Belonging.”

The Rev. Gaventa spoke about a theoretical faith community where everyone was welcome, and where people were appreciated for what they had to give. He urged those in the audience to look for ways to include those with all different kinds of disabilities and find ways they can contribute to the community.

“Go looking for people with shared interests,” he said. “Put their gifts to work.”

The discussion that followed featured six panelists who had different perspectives on the topic of creating communities of belonging. They included:

  • Cathy Ludlum, an advocate, author and speaker
  • Aida Mansoor, Interim Coordinator of the Islamic Chaplaincy Program at Hartford Seminary
  • Deacon Dennis Ferguson of The Church of St. Timothy in West Hartford
  • Erica Thompson, Senior Pastor at Asylum Hill Congregational Church in Hartford
  • Lynn Johnson, pastoral psychotherapist and member of Immanuel Congregational Church in Hartford

A captioned video of the keynote and panel can be found below.

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