Presbyterians Today

OCT 2018

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 26 of 43

P r e s by te r i a n s To d ay OCTOBER kindhearted people don't know what to say or do. When I rst picked up the Trevinos to worship with the folks at St. Andrew's Presbyterian, what I noticed right away was David's endearing humor and Debra's serenity. Both put me at ease imme- diately. David came down their apartment steps to the car care- fully and condently, with his white cane in one hand and his trumpet in the other, since he always joins in the church's praise band. Debra was effortlessly guided by her black Lab, Suzy. When I left them in front of the church, they made their own way to the door and the sanctuary. They managed well. But it got me thinking: If a blind person were to come to your church, how would they be welcomed? Certainly, an usher would offer to help a blind person, or any visitor, nd a seat. But beyond seating, let the blind person know that they can call the church ofce in advance and ask that a bulletin be emailed in Microsoft Word format so a computer can read it to them. Yes, read it to them. There are many technologies available that allow printed mate- rials to be scanned into computer software that will then "read" to the blind. "Now is the best time to be blind," David said, revealing his ability to joke even when faced with challenges. Given this technology, fewer blind people today learn Braille, opting instead for audio books, the Trevinos said. They both have Braille note- taking devices that can also verbal- ize their notes — on sermons, for instance. The sacrament of Communion can also pose challenges. Participating in the sacrament can be demeaning for the blind, particularly if the sacra- ment is done by intinction. "I once had someone serving the elements dip the bread in the chalice and actually pop it into my mouth," Debra said. "I have also had someone dip the bread and hand me the dripping morsel, leaving me to try and avoid getting grape juice on my clothes." All of this could have been avoided if those in the church had asked Debra and her husband how they could assist in the couple's taking Communion and then followed the couple's lead. A growing phenomenon Vision impairment and age-related eye diseases could double due to aging in the next three decades, according to the Centers for Disease Control. The epidemic of diabetes and other chronic diseases will further contribute to increasing vision loss. So how will the church respond to this? How will congrega- tions prepare? The Trevinos have shown me that it is primarily a matter of caring — asking what someone with a disability might need and including that person, not assuming that someone's special needs automatically exclude them from an activity. The Trevinos have also shown me that though they are blind, they see some things more clearly than those who have sight. Let us embrace those with disabilities, asking not only what they would have us do for them, but what they can do for others. As we do, we may nd that our own blindness to their chal- lenges may be healed and we may see more fully to experience and share God's amazing grace. Randall Otto was interim pastor of St Andrew's Presbyterian Church in Newark Delaware from August •••• to August ••• He lives in Chester County Pennsylvania and does online teaching for several colleges in religion philosophy and other humanities INCLUDING THE BLIND Debra Trevino oers these suggestions to help congregations include those who are blind • Ask the blind what they want you to do for them • Give them opportuni- ties to be with others go for a walk go shopping attend Bible study or a church dinner etc • Oer rides While the blind can take mass transportation a ride is always welcomed pro- viding fellowship time • Assist in paying for costly technology that allows printed materials to be "read" to the blind COURTESY OF CAROL AND GENE STILZ Debra and David Trevino have shown the congregation at St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church in Newark, Delaware, that those with disabilities can be an integral part of the family of faith.

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of Presbyterians Today - OCT 2018