From Longing to Belonging: A Practical Guide to Including People with Disabilities and Mental Health Conditions in Your Faith Community

From Longing to Belonging: A Practical Guide to Including People with Disabilities and Mental Health Conditions in Your Faith Community

by Shelly Christensen

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Overview

Inclusion is More Than Being––a House of Prayer for All Peoples

Everyone wants to belong—in their community at large and especially their faith-based community. Nearly 20 percent of people live with a disability or mental health condition, which means so many families—maybe even yours—are dealing with these issues for their loved one. The one place everyone should feel like they belong is their house of worship and other faith-based community organizations. From Longing to Belonging is a new approach to inclusion. Author Shelly Christensen, M.A., a leader in faith community disability inclusion, provides step-by-step guidance to any faith-based organization committed to welcoming, supporting, and including people with disabilities or mental health conditions and those who love them. From Longing to Belonging will help your faith community take a new look at inclusion and belonging and learn how to welcome and include everyone.

From Longing to Belonging is a comprehensive approach to inclusion of people with disabilities and mental health conditions written by one of the leading voices in the faith community disability inclusion movement. Based on Shelly Christensen's work with congregations and faith-based organizations, people with disabilities, mental health conditions, and families, this book guides churches, synagogues, and other houses of worship to take their good intentions and turn them into actions—so that each and every person can participate and contribute how they wish. Other faith-based organizations-including seminaries and university religious studies programs, social service agencies, community centers, youth groups, camps, arts venues, and philanthropic organizations-can advance services, supports, and participation by people with disabilities and mental health conditions.

As Shelly Christensen was researching and framing From Longing to Belonging, she recalled the iconic text from Isaiah 56:7, “For my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.” Faith communities often quoted this text to let seekers in on how inclusive they were. But the truth is, this phrase only tells part of the story.

Shelly explored the whole text of Isaiah to 56:7. What she read astounded her. Here was the truest understanding of inclusion she’d ever seen—God’s definition of what it means to belong and be included. “I will bring them to My holy mount, and I will cause them to rejoice in My house of prayer, their burnt offerings and their sacrifices shall be acceptable upon My altar, for My house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.”

Based on this text, Shelly developed a process that goes well beyond what faith communities are currently doing to build a true culture of belonging and inclusion.

Shellly has developed and written about a new approach based on her experiences helping many different faith-based organizations. She gives us an understanding of what the terms “inclusion,” and “belonging” mean through the stories she tells, including her own as the parent of a child with an autism spectrum disorder.

The book covers many aspects of inclusion in faith communities and religious organizations, including worship, social inclusion, religious education from preschool through adulthood, camping, youth groups, life cycle events, parenting, and grief and loss.

This book is based on two concepts, both equally important in a faith community’s journey-The Spirit of Belonging and The Structure of Inclusion.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781946195272
Publisher: Inclusion Innovations
Publication date: 08/29/2018
Pages: 312
Product dimensions: 6.69(w) x 9.61(h) x 0.65(d)

About the Author

Shelly Christensen, MA, FAAIDD is an award-winning international author, speaker, consultant, and leader in the field of faith community inclusion of people with disabilities and mental health conditions. For nearly two decades Shelly has walked with diverse congregations and faith-based organizations to guide and inspire them to support belonging and inclusion in all aspects of community life.

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