The Scottish Churches Disability Group is a registered charity which promotes the full inclusion of people with any form of disability or impairment in the worship and community life of all Christian churches in Scotland.
We believe that:
- churches are for everyone, regardless of disability;
- churches fulfil their mission only when everyone can access worship and church life;
- churches need everyone’s talents – including those of people with disabilities.
The charity is governed by an Executive Committee which currently consists of five office-bearers and five ordinary members. SCDG’s autumn meeting incorporates the AGM.
The charity has two objectives:
- To promote the inclusion of disabled people within all Christian churches in Scotland, enabling people with any kind of impairment to reach their fullest potential in participation at all levels of church life.
- To work with Christian churches in Scotland to promote the inclusion of all disabled people.
President: Jeremy Balfour, MSP, Convener of the Cross-Party Group in the Scottish Parliament on Disability, formerly a Baptist Church minister.
I am very honoured to be the President of the SCDG, as it brings together two of main passions. I have attended church all my life and believe in the global and local church. I was a minister in a local church for some years and can see the benefit of people from different backgrounds gathering to worship and serve. I was born with a physical disability and that affects my thinking on faith.
I believe Jesus is interested in everyone but has a bias towards those on the margins of society. That included many disabled people. As a community we need to learn together and that will mean we need to be accepting, understanding and open to new ideas. We do not all learn or worship the same way and often church excludes individulas. This does not happen on purpose but simply because we do not think.
SCDG should be there to help churches develop but also challenge attitudes and structures. Until we are truly open to all, we will never fully be the church.
Chairman: David Nicholson, Deacon in the Church of Scotland.
My name is David James Nicholson. I was born 7 January 1953. As a child I attended the Royal Blind School in Edinburgh.
I was baptised and joined the congregation of what was then Mayfield Parish Church in Edinburgh in May 1974. At that time I was a member of the youth group called “Fourth Dimention”. Even at an early stage I was determined to play a full part in the congregation’s life – being a member of the Congregational Board and then invited to join the Kirk Session where I had a remit to look after 13 house groups as part of the Mayfield family’s life. In my early days at Mayfield I think some saw me as David who came along on a Sunday morning and it was awefully nice to have him there.
I spent many years working for a large firm of Solicitors in Edinburgh.
In 1990 I took up training at St Colms before moving to Cumbernauld to take up a post as Parish Assistant in Kildrum in September 1992.
I am now a retired Deacon but continue to keep my hand in doing Pulpit Supply and playing a part in the Presbytery of Glasgow.
I joined Scottish Churches Disability Group because I firmly believe we all have a part to play in our congregations.
If we believe that God has no favourites in his Kingdom but sees all of us as equals (his children) then it is right we follow his example.
At the moment I serve as Chair of the group and find this a huge challenge but we still have work to do.
Vice-Chairman: Paul Goode, member of the Church of Scotland’s former Learning Disabilities Working Group.
My name is Paul Goode and I am retired after many years working in the Banking Sector.
It is a great privilege to be able to serve on the Scottish Churches Disability Group as the vice Chair. I have a great interest in trying to make our churches totally accessible to all Gods Children.
For the last 55 years I have been a Christian often singing in church and Cathedral Choirs. Music is a very important part of my life.
I live with my wife and son in the Scottish Borders and we moved to Scotland from the South of England 13 years ago, so that our son could attend the Royal Blind School
My son Matthew is 23 years old and lives at home with us. He is severely disabled with dystonic cerebral palsy and is cortically blind. He has a great zest for life and we have never stopped him growing in his own way. His faith is strong and he has been accepted as a full member of the Church of Scotland. He cannot talk, walk or see but those present at his Affirmation of Faith certainly knew that Matthew was fully aware of the promises he was making.
Matthew is the reason for me being part of SCDG. Sadly we have had incidents where we have felt not welcome in Church and once was asked to leave a service in a Cathedral due to my son’s disability. I have come to realise that we are not alone and this type of problem needs to stop.
We are all challenged at the moment, due to the Covid 19 virus, of how to” Do Church”. I have a desire that when we come out of this period all our churches will be accessible to all.