June 15, 2011

A story of distraction

There's a story making the rounds, from North Carolina:

MATTHEWS, N.C. -- The mother of 12-year-old Jackson Helms said her son was removed from Elevation Church for being a “distraction” during their Easter service on April 24.

He has cerebral palsy.

She was supposed to meet with the church leaders to discuss what happened, but the pastor canceled the meeting when he heard she had contacted Channel 9.

We spoke with Jackson’s mother, Kelly Helms, today, and she says each day is a little tougher for Jackson than it is for normal children.

“Easter Sunday he got all dressed up, got ready to go, no small feat with a kiddo like him,” she said. But, right after the opening prayer inside Elevation’s sanctuary that Sunday, Helms said Jackson voiced his own kind of “Amen.”

“We were very abruptly escorted out.” Kelly Helms said.

Helms said a volunteer at Elevation took her and Jackson to the lobby to wait out the remainder of the service.

Helms said it was not a good feeling but saw an opportunity to contact the pastor with an offer to start a ministry for special needs children. She says the idea was rejected.

When Eyewitness News went to Elevation Church, an employee told us they focus on worship and not ministries.

But Elevation Church officials emailed Eyewitness News Wednesday night after our story aired. In a statement, a spokeswoman said "Everything we do is about ministry. We focus specifically on our worship and children’s ministries – and we partner with many other ministries in Charlotte."

The church statement continued to say "...this young man and his family were not removed from our church. They were escorted to a nearby section of our church where they watched the service in its entirety.".

Earlier Wednesday, the church issued a statement that said, “It is our goal at Elevation to offer a distraction free environment for all our guests. We look forward to resolving any misunderstanding that has occurred.”

Even though the pastor canceled the meeting with Kelly Helms, he called the Mecklenburg County ARC, an advocacy group for the disabled, and asked for special needs training for his staff.

When Channel 9 told Helms, she said this was the answer to her prayers.

I suppose that as a reader, you have to decide what the story is here. Because it seems to me that there are a few things at work.

Is this a story about the loneliness and isolation of parenting a child with special needs? That's the first thing that jumped out at me. I thought of this family, looking for spiritual refuge and instead finding a kind of judgment and rejection. I wonder about this mother, if she wondered why God would reject her and her son. I think the feeling that God has abandoned your child and your family occurs to just about every special needs parent at some point.

Is this a story about yet another failure of Christian values put to the test? How would the members of this church answer their bumper stickers? "What would Jesus do?" Is Jackson Helms a child of God? Does he have the same value in the eyes of God as a child with full control of his body and the ability to express himself "appropriately"?

Is this a story about overzealous disability parents making unreasonable demands of the world around them? Should the rest of the congregation be forced to endure the distraction of a child with CP in their midst, making a noise that they are unaccustomed to? There are a lot of people in the comments to that story that say exactly that.

"It seems to me that the Helms need to be the ones to get some sensitivity training on the rights of others (non-handicapped). A disability does not trump the rights of the rest of us, sorry. [...] I haven't said anything negative about the disabled child. I also have compassion for him and hope, as his Dad noted, that Divine Intervention will cure his condition. The problem is with his Mom and her lack of understanding that his disability does not give her special privileges over the rest of us."

"Why do you think that you have a "right" to inflict your kid or your dog or your parrot or whatever on other folks?"

"A "special needs child" is really no more different that a newborn baby. Constant need 24/7 noisy when in needs etc etc."

"If it was a crying baby, old man farting, or some redneck lighting up a smoke you all wouldn't mind kicking them out. Just because a child has special needs and is a bit of a distraction does not give him or her the right to make others peoples time at church uncomfortable."

"He was treated no different than anyone else who makes noise during service."

But of course, he IS different. He has cerebral palsy. And that difference isn't cultural or religious, and it's not one that he asked for. Most of all, it doesn't change his value as a human being, or his need for spiritual enrichment. For me and for my family, church is not the place where that's going to happen; a story like this just re-enforces that conviction on our part.  But for Jackson and his family, the Elevation Church was the house of worship where they sought that experience. The church failed them, and it failed Jackson Helms because of his disability.

Jackson was removed from the service after making a noise. A single sound. But the sound he made was a "non-typical" noise, and that noise was deemed inappropriate for a house of God. If you consider the story carefully, you'll see how that's what it boils down to.

You can decide what this story is about, but I can tell you what it's NOT about. It's not about someone being disrespectful or distracting. It's about a mother making other people uncomfortable with the mere presence of her disabled son.

The fact that it happened at all is terribly sad. The fact that it happened in a church? You decide what that feels like to you. I find it unsurprising. But that's me.

54 comments:

kari said...

What a missed opportunity, for this church. To show that it is better, more accepting of all God's children, than the rest of the world. To show that everyone can celebrate God. To show God speaks through everyone, even the broken.

I guess their god only speaks to the typicals. I guess their god is awfully choosy.

But you know what bothers me the most? The idea of this child being equivalent to farting, smoking, or--did I read that right, a freaking PARROT? How repugnant.

I am disappointed, but like you, not surprised. I hope his family finds a new church, if they feel the need for church.

Roo's Mom said...

Before I had Roo I probably would have noticed if someone made a "non-typical" sound during a church service. I'd like to think I wouldn't have been bothered by it though. Now with Roo, I've become fairly militant and believe that if people are gathered for worship and want to actually call themselves Christians, they had better be willing to embrace anyone sitting there in the assembly, no matter what. If they aren't prepared to do that, then they don't belong there either; and to make the family and the child feel ostracized is a SIN.

No more relegating people with "differences" to just outside where communities gather. It's sad but true that people who proclaim that they are "in" with God are often the quickest to exclude others.

Sabrina said...

This article really annoyed me. That church is setting a horrible example by what they did to Jackson and his mother! This church definitely DID fail - in a BIG way. Jackson is a child of God, and he had every right to be included in that congregation. God doesn't care how we worship Him, as long as we ARE worshiping Him. And for the congregation to be that insensitive, well, I wonder if they've ever been exposed to a differently-abled child ever in their lifetimes! It's shameful. It really is.

Samara D. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Samara D. said...

I don't think this was an injustice. Many churches have seperate ares where parents with children can listen to the service without their child(ren) distracting other members of the congregation. I highly doubt this was an issue of the child have special needs - it was, I'm certain, moreso and issue of the child being a little too loud and so they were escorted to another area to listen to the sermon. They'd do the same if it were a crying baby, a chatterbox 4 year old and the like.

I am a mother of 4, and my youngest has both PMG & AMC. I do not, for one moment, doubt the goodness and grace of God in our lives. The Lord placed her with us because it takes special people to be the parents of such special little people. My husband & I are blessed by our babies presence in our lives every single day - and we take her to church with us each Sunday where they not only adore her, but pray for her, have made meals for our famiy, visited her during many of her NICU and PICU stays and soforth. Do not let this story lead you to believe that the Lord makes people turn their noses up at children with special needs. If anything? Those who truly follow Christ have a true love and compassion toward these sweet & mild children. They are the epitomy of innocence and my daughter, for one, is living proof of the real & healing power of God through prayer & grace.

Rant over. :)

Laura said...

As a devout Catholic, with two special needs children, I have been disappointed by the people who run my church. The irony is, as you mentioned, that one would believe that your religious community is a place where children of special needs would be embraced, perhaps even cherished. I don't find it surprising either though, because churches, of all sorts, are run by humans. Humans are far from perfect, make mistakes and are oftentimes just plain bad people. I don't blame God because some of his humans are crappy. There are many excellent ones out there too-and the bad ones aren't going to get in the way of my beliefs.

DDK23 said...

Sounds like a church that needs to meet Jesus for the first time. They would be surprised what he looks like.

DDK23 said...

It's amazing that the church didn't just come out and admit it was wrong or a mistake. They still fail to see what they did.

Foxxy One said...

There was a story in our prayer book at synogogue that I used to read over and over and over again because it touched my heart.

It was about a group of elders daveding (praying). A young shepphard boy came upon them and would watch them. He did this for many days until one day he decided to join them. He pulled out his flute and began to play because that was the only way he knew how to pray. Many of the elders were angry at this distraction until the Rabbi stopped them and told them that Gd understands this boy's prayers just as much as Gd understands all our prayers.

Unfortunately, ignorance is everywhere. I pray that family finds a church that will understand that this child's noise is really music to Gd's ears.

Jette said...

I'm not a religious person at all, but I have to say I am surprised. Most priests/ministers/rabbis I have encountered in services, when faced with a spontaneous noise from a child or anyone really, would have used this as an opportunity for sympathetic humor, or to tie it in with the service in some way. To remove the person making the noise is a lost chance to remind the congregation that the community is made up of all kinds of people, some of whom will act non-traditionally in a service. I have heard clergymen handle unexpected noises (usually crying babies) gracefully and humorously. On the other hand, I'm not a member of a church community and perhaps many do act insensitively to suppress their regular attendees in this way. That's so sad, and I don't see how it can be reconciled with most churches' missions.

LizrdGizrd said...

It's always disappointing to see a church be more concerned about worldly things than spiritual things. This seems to be a case where Christians should put the needs of a child before their comfort zone.

LyndaB said...

I have to say that if a person's faith is so tenuous that a random atypical song from one of god's other beloved children is enough to distract you from it... that child is not your problem.

For those looking for a welcoming place to work out your spiritual needs and that of your child however that might be, may I suggest looking into your local UU congregation. They are committed to providing a place for all, regardless of religion (or lack of), creed, abilities, sexuality, race, etc, etc, etc.

Julia O'C said...

My dad is a minister in another State and constantly asks why my family doesn't attend church. When we're visiting them, we do attend services and if my son goes batshit, people either politely ignore it or offer to help. But I'm the minister's daughter and everyone knows our situation - this wouldn't happen in any other church. How do I know? Because I've called at least a dozen churches in our area and flat-out asked. When I explain our situation, we are all but told that we are not welcome (though one church said that if we found a babysitter, they'd love to have the rest of us join).

Matthew 19:14 needs to be re-written to read "Let only the typical little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven."

MiaZagora said...

You people are the judgemental ones. You pass judgement on this church and the congregation without even hearing their side of the story. The pastor was willing to meet with the woman to discuss what happened, but she sicked a news agency on them. She doesn't seem to be a member of the church, and the pastor doesn't know her from anyone else, and she's insulted that he rejected her offer to start a ministry at his church? How presumptuous and rude. Does the woman have a reputation for causing trouble, looking for the tiniest smidgen of "discrimination" against her child? What does her husband have to say - wasn't he there?

She wasn't kicked out of the church - she was taken to an overflow area, where anyone else with a noisy child would be expected to go, usually of their own free will out of respect for the speaker and out of common courtesy for her fellow worshippers. I submit she WAS, indeed, accommodated! Not every church has a need or a budget for a "special needs" ministry. Even if she worked for free, there is the matter of insurance and remodeling and other things. Besides, we don't even know if she's a Christian.

This one-sided hit piece isn't journalism and it isn't fair.

Kim in Alaska said...

Rob, I agree with Laura... I don't, and you shouldn't, blame God for the ignorance and insensitivity of 'humans' in a church. God would never have done what that person did... God says, 'Let the little ones come to me...'

Rob Rummel-Hudson said...

I don't, and you shouldn't, blame God for the ignorance and insensitivity of 'humans' in a church.

Um, I don't believe I did. Re-reading... Nope. Sure didn't.

Julia O'C said...

@MiaZagora
"[...]there is the matter of insurance and remodeling and other things."

I know, right?! Handicapped people are *such* an inconvenience!

(PS: It's people like you that are the real reason I don't try harder to find a church that is willing to accept my son.)

Rob Rummel-Hudson said...

Especially for a cash-strapped little church like Elevation...

Ranelle said...

I'm a Christian who is attending Seminary right now. Thank you so much for posting this story. I am in the process of writing a thesis regarding this very thing- Disabilities and the Church. As someone who has learning disabilities I have seen the best of people and the worse regarding people in these situations. I pray the this family finds a supportive spiritual family that will help them heal from the hurts that these unthinking members of the faith have caused.
Reformation regarding disabilities does need to happen within the church. The good news, is that there are more churches who are changing their actions, may we help change everyone's preconceived ideas rather than just tearing them down. Praying for a wind of change to make it way throughout all the churches.

tiffany ard said...

@Mia: *Besides, we don't even know if she's a Christian.*

What if she isn't a Christian? How does that change the story?

Kim in Alaska said...

"I wonder about this mother, if she wondered why God would reject her and her son. I think the feeling that God has abandoned..."

Ok, maybe I read that wrong, but you say 'God"... and not the fools working in the church.

Rob Rummel-Hudson said...

She didn't know the secret handshake, Tiffany.

Mia's apparently not much of a reader, since the story makes it pretty clear that the mother was in fact a Christian. If she wasn't, though, I can't imagine this experience made the flock very appealing to her and her family.

Rob Rummel-Hudson said...

Ok, maybe I read that wrong, but you say 'God"... and not the fools working in the church.

Kim, for the longest time I had no idea if you were being deliberately obtuse. The whole "Kim doesn't know what 'agnostic' means" thing made me rethink that, but even then, you continued to say it even after you were enlightened. So I feel pretty secure in concluding that you hear what you want to hear and comprehend what you choose to comprehend.

But yeah, I did say that I wondered if she blamed God. And as an alleged Christian, so should you. Because if she did, then that's the failing of a Christian church to minister to one of its own.

Which is fine with me, since I believe that she would probably be better off without her imaginary friend, but that's her life and her spiritual well-being, not mine.

She went to a Christian church looking for solace, and she got rejection instead. If she doubts God's love because of the abominable way her son was treated, that is neither her fault, nor mine, nor anyone's but the Elevation Church.

Samara D. said...

I am not here to argue, pass judgement or condemn anyone for their beliefs. I will, however, say that this seems to have become more of an issue of this woman vrs. God than what the true issue here was - a situation taken completely out of proportion.

As many of you have mentioned, it is not uncommon for churches to have seperate areas for people with children. Children - that means ALL children - can be a distraction no matter the age, limitations, etc.

This woman clearly felt a sense of rejection and that is unfortunate. However, it did sound as if though she may have jumped the gun in contacting the press before allowing the minister from this church to give his condolences and speak with her about what happened.

Too often in todays society people are lawsuit happy, Channel 24 invesigation happy and so forth when in reality simply confronting the problem - instead of taking a cowards "look at me, woe is me" approach- would have resolved it. How are we to know that the person escorting her to a seperate area even knew the child HAD a disability? Perhaps they thought this was just an 'average' child being a bit disruptive in church? I've escorted my own children out of service when they are loud.

The Lord loves ALL children - not just the 'average' children as someone said. My daughter has a multitude of 'problems' but I do not for even a moment blame God or go rushing to the News Station when I 'feel' violated by peoples staring or questions.

Let's all put on our big girl panties and stop placing blame on everyone else anytime we get a splinter in our thumb... you get me?

Kim in Alaska said...

Rob, you make me crazy! They're YOUR words!
But I'd like to put this into a different perspective and see what you think... lets just say Mom has a sick baby, and she takes baby to St. Jude children's Hosp., or a Methodist hosp., or any kind of a religious demoninational hospital. baby needs surgery. what if the surgeon is negligent in his work, surgery, etc., and baby passes away because of it. Is that God's fault? should mom blame God for that?

Danielle said...

This story is such a cliche; it's stupid.

Reminds me of the Campus Conservatives at my school who refuse to support National (as in Canada) Aboriginal Day of Action (you know, because if they did that would be supporting such frivolities as equal education and clean drinking wate for people of all racial identities)

Why it that I am never surprised by the amazing compassion of the people whose belefs oppose my own?

Rob Rummel-Hudson said...

Kim, READ. Seriously. Just fucking read what I said. Where did I say it was God's fault? Quote it to me. Not where I said that I wondered if the mother felt that way. Quote to me where I said that.

Jesus Howard Christ. I've stopped posting people's comments in the past for various reasons, but you may very well be the first person I decide to ban because you are just plain stupid.

Rob Rummel-Hudson said...

How are we to know that the person escorting her to a seperate area even knew the child HAD a disability?

Seriously? Seriously?

I'm thinking the wheelchair might have tipped them off.

Am I being punked?

Rob Rummel-Hudson said...

As for your question, Kim (pretending for a moment that it's even relevant to anything I've said, which it 100% is not), in what way does it matter what I think the mother should feel, or what YOU think she should feel? In that circumstance, I'd say that the single most awful thing that anyone could do would be to start preaching to that mother that it's not God's fault, don't blame him, etc.

Would YOU step up and say that to her? I suspect I know the answer to that already.

Kim in Alaska said...

Ban me if you want to, Rob. So be it. But there is no denying that God must be weighing on your mind, because you sure talk about Him enough. An don't think for one second that I am dumb, or am being obtuse as much as you like to think so. I challenge you to THINK, and you don't like it. You'd rather do your usual 'drive-by' posts and everyone is just supposed to pet you for it.
You are a very angry, bitter, mad at the world person. You blame God for your 'broken' child, and it eats you alive. Well, you know what? we may not all have special needs children, but in some form or another, we have all been dealt some shitty cards in life.
Ban me if you want, that's the usual cowardly solution.

Rob Rummel-Hudson said...

Oh, give me a break, Kim. You don't make me think. You make me EXPLAIN, like I'm talking to a child.

For that matter, I'm not choosing to stop doing that because I'm a coward. I'm choosing to stop because it's exhausting. Because I was wrong, it's not at all like talking to a child. It's like talking to a pet. You can explain what's on television to your dog all you want, but he's never going to quite get it. Eventually you stop trying, which is what I'm doing with you.

Lydia said...

I have autism. I'm 23. At church, I wander, I mess with my iPod, I get up and down 10 times in a service, I flap my hands and whatnot, I don't sing... and my pastor actually encourages me to worship in the way that works for ME.

Mary O'Shaughnessy said...

What is this about "guests" in a church, anyway? I thought St. Paul said we are all _members_ of Christ's Body.

brooke said...

i go to a church where the priest (episcopal) claims she knows how to be sensitive to the mentally ill, but it is clear she does not know how to be - especially the mentally ill who don't present as "typical".. re: typical - not able to function very well, in need of special services, etc.. she does not know how to treat people who are fully functioning and yet she knows they have a mental illness. she refuses to listen. i don't blame god, i blame her and her unwillingness to understand this failing of hers. i blame her pride. i find it very dismaying as well because she is not someone that if i had a mental illness i would seek out any sort of pastoral advice from.

Elizabeth said...

I'll never forget when people turned around and stared disapprovingly during church when my Sophie made humming sounds. And I never went back, either.

Elizabeth said...

To all the nut-job folks commenting on this reasonable post:

I've always found it difficult to reconcile the Christian imperative to worship God in community with some churches' policies to remove or have separate areas for children and other distracted persons. I admire the church of a good friend I have here, an intensely religious Latino woman whose church service is raucous and filled with joy, babies crying or laughing, music and worship. I've allowed her to bring my own disabled daughter who makes a lot of noise that other churches might consider "disruptive" but who at this church is celebrated and loved.

The Elevation Church incident is more indicative of the larger culture's attitudes toward the disabled than it is a reflection of our litigious society. I'm grateful that the woman brought it to the attention of the press. Perhaps someone out there will read of this incident and be enlightened.

Ethel Mertz said...

Ew. I was sickened by the story. I'm a Christian and I only have "unbroken" children (or NT children or whatever I have to call them so you know I don't have any experience with special needs). I am [still] surprised when Christians and/or churches act in an un-Christ-like manner. Maybe I should be over it.
However, and I tread very lightly here... I do agree that perhaps she ought to have spoken with the pastor before getting the media involved. And, perhaps she could have called the church in advance, or spoken with someone there that morning to prepare them for the possibility of her son vocalizing in a manner to which none were accustomed. Although, as your loyal readers have pointed out, the church might have said then and there that she wasn't welcome.

No matter how you slice it, the whole story is makes my stomach turn and shouldn't have happened.

erika said...

Rob, I know you are not a believer, and I respect that, but may I post a link for those of your readers who are church-going Christians and yet defended the actions of Elevation church? The link is to a post by author Rachel Held Evans, whose commentary on this embarrassing event certainly can't be dismissed as a biased, judgmental rant against Christians or God. I don't really know her, but I found this particular post insightful. Here is the link, publish it if you find it appropriate:
http://rachelheldevans.com/blessed-are-the-uncool

robyncz said...

How is it possible that nobody else is bothered by this part of the church's official statement:
"...this young man and his family were not removed from our church. They were escorted to a nearby section of our church where they watched the service in its entirety."

They were taken to a section where they were expected to *watch* the service--not "participate" or "take part in" but "watch."

The implication here is clear, even if it wasn't meant to be. Anyone who is not able to behave as expected is invited to "watch" the community, but not to be a part of it. Frankly, that's not a community I'd have any interested in being a part of.

Rob Rummel-Hudson said...

I do agree that perhaps she ought to have spoken with the pastor before getting the media involved.

This tok place on Easter Sunday, and she only went to the media after trying unsuccessfully to have a dialogue with the church for about six weeks.

Rob Rummel-Hudson said...

Thank you for that link, Erika.

Terynn said...

Jesus wept.

Miz Kizzle said...

Any church that describes itself on its website as "explosive" and "phenomenal" creeps me out. Save descriptive adjectives like those for summer blockbuster movies and the new chipolte nachos at Applebee's. Jesus would have smacked that pastor upside the head for ejecting that kid.

Ethel Mertz said...

Thanks for the clarification, Rob. If they wouldn't return her call for 6 weeks then she was right to go to the media.

Linz said...

Let me just start off by saying I have been following your blog, Rob, for nearly a year now, and I continue to be incredibly impressed by what you have to say and they manner in which you articulate yourself. I am a Christian. I myself grew up in Plano until the age of 12, then moved to the Charlotte, NC area. I have been to this church. I KNOW this family. Let me please clarify some things that some of you are automatically assuming regarding this issue and this church:

*Elevation is the 2nd fastest growing church in the nation. The amount of money that was generated through tithes, offerings, and donations in 2010 alone totaled over $10 MILLION dollars - this church is not "hurting" for money. They could EASILY adapt and add services and ministries for children and families with disabilities.
*Yes, Elevation does amazing things for the community of Charlotte - no one is denying this, before there are comments possibly claiming that - this is not a matter of what Elevation does for Charlotte and in Charlotte - it's a matter of how they treat their own attendees.
*Speaking of which - Elevation does not have formal "membership". There is no transfer of letter to or from this church or whatever to establish yourself as a "member" of Elevation.

Ok, enough about Elevation. Now about the Helms family:
*Kelly IS a born again Christian. She was actually saved at Jackson's hospital bed when he was younger.
*Jackson was not a "distraction". He simply made an utterance (because he cannot express himself with words) after a praise and worship set had completed. Then he drifted off to sleep. The volunteer who removed him TOUCHED HIS WHEELCHAIR WITHOUT HIS PARENTS PERMISSION - actually, during prayer, while his parents eyes were closed. It was his sister who initially noticed he was being escorted out.
*Kelly IS NOT suing the church. She is just advocating for change and new education/program implementation, as the rest of us who support her are.

@MiaZagora - "their side" of the story is this: She was going to meet with the CAMPUS Pastor, John Bishop. NEVER was she going to meet with Steven Furtick, the PASTOR of Elevation - the "visionary" (please see my link at the bottom). John Bishop pulled out of the meeting at Furtick's demand. They also knew she was going to WSOC (channel 9 news in Charlotte) when the meeting was arranged. The only way to have gotten in contact with Steven Furtick (until shortly after this all happened) was via Twitter. He is escorted promptly to and from each service flanked with bodyguards. Oh, and Kelly is a PT (Physical Therapist). She has turned her life story with Jackson into her passion - into her ministry and life's work. She's not looking to cause "trouble", she's looking to implement change and bring good to a congregation that could greatly benefit from this type of ministry (again, 2nd fastest growing church in the US - why WOULDN'T they want to add this kind of ministry?)

I will still continue to visit Elevation from time to time (some of my family members are very active volunteers at the church). I will still continue to say that Elevation does great and amazing things. But I will say this - what they did to the Helms family was blatantly wrong and unbiblical. Last time I checked, Jesus preached to thousands, and didn't have the "convenience" of an over-flow section. If Jesus didn't do it in his ministry, it's my opinion that no other pastor should have such "luxuries" afforded to them.

I just wanted to clear up some misconceptions that may be floating around with this story...even we agree that the "whole story" was presented...

Also, for those of you interested, please take a closer look at the churches' "Code". It raises an eyebrow with me on more than one account, and surely #10 (if not more) were violated in this instance: http://www.elevationchurch.org/thecode

tee said...

It's pretty outrageous. The pastor should explain to the flock (which I suppose is what the disability sensitivity training will accomplish) that not all God's creatures were made to be seen and not heard. I'm offended on their behalf.

ashley said...

This disgusts me. With over 8,000 members, you'd think that statistically they would be used to children and adults with disabilities in their services. Have they run them all off? This is not the first incidence I've heard of such things, although I believe the other article I read was in a Pennsylvania newspaper and not about a southern mega-church.

I'd been considering visiting Elevation (as I'm a Charlotte native looking for a new church,) but I think I won't waste my time now.

wen said...

wish this story (and the comments on it -- an old man farting? really? holy crap. pun intended.) was from the onion.

wish this kid could go to glide in sf. i wish his congregation and pastor could, too, because they'd likely learn something. everyone is welcome. oh and that means, well, everyone.

Stephen said...

The behavior of the person who rolled the kid out of the service, without even first speaking to the family, was bad enough. For the pastor to then blow her off, and for the church to make a dismissive statement about it, tells me all I need to know about the place.

But there are plenty of disgusting churches. (I say this as someone who has spent a lot of time in church.) That part is nothing new.

If it happened to me, I'd shake the dust off my shoes and never return. But the real issue is the one you raise about families with disability being isolated. Just this morning I read a mother's email saying that dental surgery for her kid was cancelled because (based on info from her kid's DAN! doctor) she questioned the anesthesia that would be used. Not only was the appointment cancelled, but she was told to go elsewhere. Just for expressing concern.

It's astonishing that families with disability aren't more radical than we are.

jocalyn said...

omg...please tell me kim from alaska is gone for good. i'm so over her.

Rob Rummel-Hudson said...

Smart money says she'll be back. You might not know it, though. I'm done posting comments that are made for no other reason than to make someone else feel good about themselves, at the expense of my feelings. Kim thinks she's about 70% smarter and 90% more relevant than she is. I think I'm done indulging her.

Lori said...

I'm an atheist, and even I am surprised by this story. I expect them to at least pretend to practice what they preach.

joyful noise said...

I am Jacksons mom-and I thank you, Rob for allowing this story to pulse through your blog. I want to make clear a couple things, my motive in going public was to make change. Elevation did NOT change a thing until I did go public, at which point they quickly erected signs to anounce their "Non Distraction Policy". I also wanted to state for the record that I would go back o Elevation in a nano-second if they made changes to llow distraction, I mean Jackson, into congregation with everyone else. I would go back for one reason only: to celebrate the elevation of Elevation. That would be a blessed day, indeed!

Unknown said...

With as loud as it is that church, I'm surprised they were able to hear him.