"Draw the Circle Wide": Living the Commitment to Radical Hospitality

As I write this article for the Tower, I am enjoying God’s gifts of summer – the warmth and beauty of the setting sun, the rainbow colors of wildflowers and woods, the music of the whip-poor-wills, phoebes, mourning doves and loons. I am in the north woods of Michigan for several days of writing and respite. In the calm of the evening, I have ventured out in the kayak and observed the stillness of the lake occasionally disturbed by the tail of a damsel or dragonfly. I am always amazed at how something so small results in such a large rippling effect. The concentric circles spread amazingly fast and grow so large.

As a community of faith, on the morning of July 11th, we have the opportunity to do something small with the potential to expand our circle and have a lasting effect on our community. The Accessibility Committee of First Congregational Church is hosting an ecumenical workshop which is titled “Draw the Circle Wide: Accessibility in Faith”. Erik Carter, PhD, a professor of Special Education at Vanderbilt’s Peabody College, will lead us through a time of discovery and discernment as we try to live the commitment we have made to practicing “radical hospitality”. Erik is a nationally renowned expert and author of the book “Including People with Disabilities in Faith Communities: A Guide for Service Providers”.

The morning will begin with registration, snacks and getting acquainted at 8:30. From 9:00-noon, Erik will lead the group in sharing and discussion of the following topics:


Incomplete without You: The Church and People with Disabilities

Starting Points and Possibilities: The Journey of a Congregation

Beyond the Benediction: Journeying Together the Other Six Days

While much of Erik’s work centers on inclusion of people with developmental disabilities, many of the principles and strategies he proposes are applicable to welcoming persons who are marginalized for a wide variety of reasons.  The morning will conclude with lunch and an opportunity to share ideas and experiences with our brothers and sisters from faith communities in and around Madison.

Over the years this community has widened its circle to include people of many ages, cultures, beliefs, sexual identities, and abilities. But our work is not done. We must continue to find new ways to live up to our belief that “No matter who you are, or where you are on life’s journey, you are welcome here.” Until all of God’s children feel welcome, we must continue to do those small things that can have a large ripple effect.

Please join us as we learn new ways to draw our circle even wider.

Information about the workshop and online registration are available on the Church website.

~ Ruth Benedict


Posted on June 30, 2015 at 10:19 am in Featured Content.

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