Lyn Kinney is passionate about raising awareness to the experience of those who have extra obstacles to overcome just to be be gathered with Christ’s body on a Sunday morning. She sees these needs because she experiences them herself as she follows Jesus from the seat of a wheelchair. Her article shares her heart and a little bit of her journey leading up to the coming time Lynnville Friends Church’s facilities catch up to the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1978. She writes:
Of the 30 Friends churches here in Iowa, how many are accessible to the handicapped? Those crazy ramps that have been made…who uses them safely? Children seem to love rolling down them or chasing their friends up and down the ramp. Does any person pleasantly use them? I think not!
There are rules to go by when designing the ramp. It is not difficult to look up the specifications and follow them when building the ramp for your church. Quit trying to save a penny. Do it right! At the end of the ramp, make it accessible to get into the building. When one is in a wheelchair or using a walker or cane, lifting a chair or a leg up 4 or 5 inches to get into the church is DANGEROUS if not IMPOSSIBLE! Do a ramp to the doorway, please if nothing else as more people need it than you may think. It is not that much more of an effort when you are building. Follow the Specifications. Rules are rules. They are designed with safety in mind.
I know some churches would bring us a CD or cassette or have a speaker put in our home for the church services to help keep some of us with challenges connected. But just because one is handicapped does not mean we don’t need FELLOWSHIP WITH OUR LORD JESUS ALONG SIDE OF YOU.
Need help financially? Call Iowa Yearly Meeting 641-673- 9717. They can hook you up with Friends Development. No one to build it for your church? Again call Iowa Yearly Meeting office Friend’s Response Team (formerly Friends Disaster Service) may be able to assist your church to be more hospitable to those facing these kinds of challenges.
I know there are other churches in my area with elevators and accessible handicapped ramps. I don’t care! I have spent 38 years at Lynnville Friends…I am not stopping now! We have an Elevator Fund project (drop an envelope with Elevator Fund on the front and your check or cash with your name inside into the collection plate.). I am happy to say we have the money to consider building the elevator now. YEAH!!!!
Please check your floor plans at church. Fix your building, your bathrooms, your walk ways, your parking areas. There is nothing more embarrassing than to need to leave the building to go to the bathroom because you can’t get to the bathrooms or the stools are not adult size and you don’t dare try to lower yourself for fear of not being able to get up. When the gravel rocks move or your cane or walker or wheelchair sinks into the grass, it leaves you in a precarious situation. You may topple over! When you are pushing someone in a wheelchair over the terrain, it literally throws you around in your seat and you feel like you are going to fall out. If no one says these things, many people won’t think about them until it’s too late.
Let’s get our churches in order. We are not getting any younger…and one never knows when it will be YOU that is handicapped. Trust me, it is not a fun journey.
Iowa Yearly Meeting 641-673- 9717 for financial FRIENDS DEVELOPMENT or FRIEND’S Response Team (formerly Friends Disaster) to help build.
By Lyn Kinney, IAYM Christian Social Concerns 3/2017