I burn with shame

Despite her use of the unfortunate “confined to a wheelchair”, here is a minister who now gets it:

A few months later, the decision was made to move our regular weekly worship to a new location due to the space limits at the park rec center. A local AME Zion church in our neighborhood opened their doors to us, and we moved our worship to their facility. The meeting room they gave to us was not wheelchair accessible. In making the decision to move our worship there, we vowed to get a ramp that would allow for our members in wheelchairs to have access. We went for weeks and then months without an adequate resolution to this need (we tried these little removable rails that never worked; we raised money and worked with a designer to build something large and permanent; we ran into code issues and permission issues from the church, etc.).

For a while, we would carry Agnes up the short flight of stairs in her chair so that she could participate. Jennie was never comfortable doing this, so she would sit outside the door where she could listen to the service, and Agnes would call her from inside on her cell phone and give her the scripture reading. And one or two of us would go outside and sit with her for the duration of the service. Finally, Jennie and Agnes wrote us all a letter expressing how much they desired to be a part of our church family, but that they could not do so until we met in a place that fully accommodated them. It was not long after that that we moved back to the park for a short while before finding a local grade school that was fully accessible. And Jennie and Agnes were once again at the center of our life together. Even today, I burn with shame at this part of our history as a church. Jennie was an example of someone who lived with a love that forgives; of love that keeps no record of wrongs. And she helped us learn something about love that always protects.

Full entry: Remembering Jennie



  1. Erika Haub

    Hi Katja,

    I wanted to tell you thank you for your correction of my use of language. It never ceases to amaze me how much I have to learn :) Also, thanks for taking my experience and sharing it: maybe someone will read it and live more justly as a result.

    Anyway, thanks!


  2. Katja

    Thank you for your honesty. In a world that seems full of people of faith who think it’s all right to marginalize and exclude a group of people they could join in the twinkling of an eye, it’s refreshing to read an account that demonstrates some understanding.


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