From Inclusion to Justice
Disability, Ministry, and Congregational Leadership
Studies in Religion, Theology, and Disability
Imprint: Baylor University Press
Sales Date: 2022-08-15
238 Pages, 6.00 x 9.00 x 0.69 in
- Published: September 2022
American Christianity tends to view disabled persons as problems to be solved rather than people with experiences and gifts that enrich the church. Churches have generated policies, programs, and curricula geared toward "including" disabled people while still maintaining "able-bodied" theologies, ministries, care, and leadership. Ableism—not lack of ramps, of finances, or of accessible worship—is the biggest obstacle for disabled ministry in America. In From Inclusion to Justice, Erin Raffety argues that what our churches need is not more programs for disabled people but rather the pastoral tools to repent of able-bodied theologies and practices, listen to people with disabilities, lament ableism and injustice, and be transformed by God's ministry through disabled leadership. Without a paradigm shift from ministries of inclusion to ministries of justice, our practical theology falls short.
Drawing on ethnographic research with congregations and families, pastoral experience with disabled people, teaching in theological education, and parenting a disabled child, Raffety, an able-bodied Christian writing to able-bodied churches, confesses her struggle to repent from ableism in hopes of convincing others to do the same. At the same time, Raffety draws on her interactions with disabled Christian leaders to testify to what God is still doing in the pews and the pulpit, uplifting and amplifying the ministry and leadership of people with disabilities as a vision toward justice in the kingdom of God.
1 The Problem of Inclusion
2 The "End" of Inclusion
3 Listening beyond Inclusion
4 Listening beyond Rebuke
5 Following Jesus toward Justice
6 Ministers Each and Every One
7 A Disabled Critique of Christian Leadership
8 New Modes of Disabled Leadership
9 Mirrors and Accomplices in the Kingdom of God
This prophetic book offers a paradigm shift in our understanding of persons with disabilities within the life of Christian congregations. Raffety changes the focus from inclusion in the community to leadership of the community, seeing disability not as a problem but as a dignified experience in which God is at work for justice.~William Storrar, Director, Center of Theological Inquiry
Erin Raffety writes as a pastor to pastors and as an anthropologist to anthropologists in this forceful, fascinating book which lays bare the violence done in the name of inclusion. In prose that is fierce, humble, and precise, Raffety issues a wakeup call to churches and, by extension, the institutions that shape our field. This book offers a stunning example of what an engaged anthropology could look like and where it could lead.~Danilyn Rutherford, President, The Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research
In this powerful book, Erin Raffety calls churches to reckon with limits of inclusion by showing how prevailing practices and paradigms rarely challenge the structures of ableism and inequality that disenfranchise disabled people. This is essential reading for religious communities ready to grapple with entrenched assumptions and embrace deeper possibilities for justice and liberation.~Julia Watts Belser, Associate Professor of Jewish Studies, Georgetown University
Many, perhaps most, readers of this thoughtful volume will be playing catch-up on matters related to disabled persons. This welcome book is in part instruction, as Raffety helps us to clarify categories of our thinking. It is partly a summons to learn from and pay attention to those too long treated in our society in condescending ways. And it is in part advocacy, as Raffety urges us to move beyond a ‘paradigm of inclusion’ to full empowerment, recognition of and leadership by disabled persons. This book will go a long way to help us catch up in practice to our best but often ill-informed intentions.~Walter Brueggemann, William Marcellus McPheeters Professor Emeritus of Old Testament, Columbia Theological Seminary
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Study Guide Overview
This guide provides background, resources, and suggested lesson plans that may be helpful to those leading a book study in their congregation or classroom on From Inclusion to Justice: Disability, Ministry, and Congregational Leadership by Erin Raffety. This study guide contains (1) a Leaders’ Guide with further background, resources, and lesson plans; (2) a Study Guide with questions for readers to contemplate as they work through the book on their own; (3) a collection of Handouts to use for the lessons in the Leaders’ Guide.
All downloadable resources are copyright of the author, Erin Raffety, and should not be altered or distributed for fee without her explicit permission. Artwork on the pages is copyright of Kasey McBeath and Baylor University Press and should not be reproduced without artist and press consent.
Erin Raffety can be contacted via her website, erinraffety.com, for further information or requests for appearances and talks related to the book.
Thank you for reading and studying From Inclusion to Justice!
The guide breaks the book study into four sessions (Session 1: Introduction & Chapter 1; Session 2: Chps 2-4; Session 3: Chps 5-7; and Session 4: Chps 8-9 & Conclusion). However, if the congregation is quite unfamiliar with disability ministry, you may choose to start with an introductory session for which no reading is required that invites participants to share their motivations, fears, and hopes, and makes use of some of the Session 1 content. Of course, lessons can be combined, as well, but I chose a four session format because it seemed to be the minimum number of sessions necessary to cover the content in the book. Again, depending on congregational or leader familiarity or lack of familiarity with the topics, you may wish to supplement your preparation or the curriculum with the resources for further reading at the end of each lesson.
Each book study session is designed to last an hour and includes an opening prayer, a warm up activity, a review of the reading, prompts for discussion, a looking ahead activity, and a closing prayer. These sessions easily extend to an hour and a half of content.
Please don’t hesitate to reach out and let me know how your study goes. Which activities worked? Which didn’t? Any links that are broken? How can I help support your ministry?