This weekend, Ali Lyon and I are leading a session at the Parish Away Day entitled ‘Healing, Wholeness and Holiness: many branches: one vine?’

We are doing so on the basis that St Martin’s has many people involved in health and wholeness in its broadest sense. The session will draw on that rich diversity of experiences and perspectives to explore the holistic nature of healing ministry and how its many ‘branches’ connect to one vine. We hope that it will be a rich opportunity to learn more about God and about one another, and will continue to grow the understanding of healing and wholeness that has been developing at St Martin’s.

In the culture of Jesus’ time, disabled people – those with physical, sensory or mental health conditions, learning disability or neurodiversity – were actively excluded from the wider community and from worship at the Temple. Jesus’ healing ministry had the effect of re-including those who had been excluded in the wider community and in worship.

The key issue, however, was a culture which excluded others and which Jesus sought to address through his teaching about the Kingdom of God. Today, the best way to achieve this same aim within our society is by understanding and utilising the social model of disability, which recognises and seeks to dismantle the barriers to belonging that our society throws up through environment, structures and attitudes.

When we explore and address these barriers in church and society – as we seek to do through our Disability Advisory Group and our annual conference on disability and Church together with Inclusive Church – we are doing what Jesus sought to do through his healing ministry.

Revd Jonathan Evens