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.
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.