Accessibility in the Church: An Honest Conversation
August 10 @ 6:30 PM - 8:15 PM CDTRegister
The church is often ill-equipped for the wide variety of people who enter its doors, bringing abilities and disabilities that sometimes test its capacity to serve all of God’s people well—as mandated in Scripture. At times, the church pays most attention to those who persistently raise their voice the loudest in self-advocacy. Yet, there are also those people whose voices are not heard, or whose self-advocacy is limited. This raises questions about how the church pays attention to—and creates space for—the diverse people it is mandated to serve, including those whose abilities are not physically obvious.
Pastor Ashley McNary from Heartland Church in Sun Prairie will converse with local advocate and Christ follower Annie Heathcote, recently crowned Ms. Wheelchair Wisconsin. Together they will discuss the ways Annie negotiates the world on wheels, self-advocates, and works to educate others. Then they will discuss the ways the church is called—and might better serve—all God’s people, intentionally and practically. Annie and Ashley will interview one another and also engage in Q&A with the audience.
Annie Heathcote is a Dane County resident recently crowned Ms. Wheelchair Wisconsin 2023! As a state and local Goodwill Ambassador for the Muscular Dystrophy Association, Annie has spoken at numerous events, participated on disability panels, and been interviewed for radio, podcasts, newspapers, social media, and television. Growing up with Muscular Dystrophy herself, she has a unique perspective of what it takes to negotiate a world full of obstacles, and dealing with people whose knowledge of disability is limited. Her faith and view of God inform her view of herself and infuse her with contagious hope and determination. Annie graduated from Madison College with high honors and two Associate Degrees, one in Graphic Design & Illustration and the other in Web & Digital Media Design.
Ashley McNary is the Executive Pastor of Ministries at Heartland Church in Sun Prairie. She has advocated for kids with disabilities in several ways, including starting the Night to Remember Dance and the Wonderfully Made ministry at Heartland Church, designed for kids with disabilities/diverse needs. She helps lead efforts to make the church accessible to kids affected by intellectual or developmental disabilities, behavioral or emotional needs, sensory needs, limited vision or hearing, or who are blind or deaf.