Church and Faith
...speak encouraging words to one another.
Build up hope so you’ll all be together in this,
no one left out, no one left behind.
I know you’re already doing this; just keep on doing it.
(1 Thessalonians 5:11, The Message translation)
Increasingly dementia is understood to be an acquired disability, but there often remains some stigma - or at least, uneasiness and social awkwardness - around living with the condition. One reason for this is that dementia is sometimes referred to as the ‘disease of identity’, prompting people to ask, ‘Who am I?’ or ‘Who is this person now?’ So who am I?
I believe that each person is precious and has great value, made in the image of God. In practice this means that Christians and church families are called to 'love one another' (John 13:34), across the life course, in the good times and the difficult times. This may include living with dementia, or caring for someone living with dementia.
To be clear, while I believe that Christians are called to support and walk alongside those living with dementia and carers, it is also equally important to recognise that even as a person's dementia progresses, they still have gifts and contributions to bring to church family life.
I have had the great joy of working alongside national disability charity Livability to design and run Dementia Inclusive Church workshops, and develop resources for use by churches and chaplaincy services.
My Faith Matters is a spiritual wellbeing resource developed to support people living with dementia to maintain, reconnect with, and explore what brings meaning to their life. The resource was inspired by the time I spent with my Gran in her later years.
Travelling Together is a resource to inspire, encourage and equip churches to take their next steps prayerful, pastoral, and practical steps towards dementia inclusion. This guide is the result of running workshops around the country, and includes information, reflections, and resources that have featured most.
If you'd like to find out more about collaborating with me on Dementia Inclusive Church or faith-based projects do get in touch.
'Thank you so much for the workshop on Saturday. I appreciated the relaxed atmosphere, your input, the group exercises and the opportunity to hear what people are doing. I came away feeling encouraged and inspired about what might be the next steps towards our church community becoming more dementia inclusive and supportive' (Workshop participant, 2020)