I thought my readers might be interested in these fascinating thoughts from a disabled person who has been involved in ordination training in the Church of England. He identifies discrimination and issues with equality law, in relation to disabled ordinands/would-be ordinands. This is something I am finding in my research among a few of my participants. My study is qualitative, so the results can’t be generalised (meaning we can’t assume they apply to everyone). But it’s very interesting to hear stories of disabled people who are aiming to be ordained in the Church of England, and the barriers they are facing. Here, Stephen D’Evelyn reflects on his experiences of this.
Recently, the Conservative government has decided to cut Employment and Support Allowance for new claimants. (See: https://www.theguardian.com/society/2016/mar/29/employment-and-support-allowance-the-disability-benefit-cuts-you-have-not-heard-about). ESA is a state benefit which some disabled people receive to help level the playing-field when it comes to income. There is widespread statistical evidence that being disabled also means being financially disempowered. So the proposed changes should again bring to the fore questions about employment in the broad sense of what we as disabled people do with o9ur time.
In speaking of employment–‘vocation’ and the processes by which people become ministers, the Church of England is not always transparent, and certainly not always inclined to promote disenfranchised people actively. The actual procedure by which people are selected and then trained for ministry are in fact mysterious and often shrouded in mystery. God may move in mysterious ways, but when it comes to acting as an employer, the church should not.
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