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Book review: Disability and the Church by Lamar Hardwick



REVIEW BY HANNAH NAIM*

 

 “Lamar Hardwick was 36 years old when he found out he was on the autism spectrum. While this revelation helped him understand and process his own experience, it also prompted a difficult re-evaluation of who he was as a person. And as a pastor, it started him on a new path of considering the way disabled people are treated in the church …”

 

Lamar Hardwick is a pastor, advocate and author living with autism, a diagnosis that he didn’t receive until his late 30s. He holds a Master of Divinity degree and a Doctor of Ministry degree, both obtained in the United States.

 

In his enlightening work, Disability and the Church, he explores the landscape of faith, community and disability. Through a blend of personal anecdotes, theological insights and practical guidance, Hardwick offers a compelling narrative that challenges traditional perceptions and advocates for inclusivity within the Church.

 

At the heart of Hardwick’s message lies the recognition of diversity within the body of Christ. Drawing from his own experiences, he articulates the struggles faced by individuals with autism through his reflections on navigating relationships, reading and responding to social queues, meeting expectations, and managing burnout. He parallels these points with his overall inability to understand the world in a holistic sense as well as the subsequent barriers that often hinder full participation and engagement for those with disabilities within the Church. He urges readers to confront preconceived notions and embrace true inclusivity, allowing more people access to faith communities.

 

No matter what your position is within The Salvation Army, Disability and the Church serves as a valuable insight, offering practical strategies for fostering a culture of accessibility and inclusion. From accessibility to attitude, Hardwick provides concrete steps churches can take to create welcoming environments where all members can fully participate in worship, fellowship, and service.

 

His points on building inclusive faith communities are met with his current experience as a pastor, offering strategies that show consideration to the substantial scope of work and challenges that most church leaders navigate without the additional responsibilities associated with breeding an inclusive culture.

 

Disability and the Church is a thought-provoking exploration of faith, disability, and community. Lamar Hardwick’s reflections and practical recommendations make this book essential for anyone committed to building more inclusive and compassionate religious spaces. By embracing diversity and inviting us to imagine a Church where everyone belongs – a vision that is pivotal in our day and age.

 

Disability and the Church: A Vision for Diversity and Inclusion Paperback is available to order online.


*Hannah Naim is the Disability Inclusion Project Coordinator for The Salvation Army Diversity and Inclusion team

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