On 6th September, Beyond Words launched Going to Church, the latest in its series of wordless books for people with learning and communication difficulties. The book is the first in a mini-series about faith and community.
Lambeth Palace, the official London residence of the Archbishop of Canterbury, provided an atmospheric and impressive setting for the launch. The event was attended by 100 people from across the learning disability and religious communities.
Guests heard from Baroness Sheila Hollins, founder of Beyond Words, as well as Anglican Bishop Stephen Conway and Bishop Richard Moth of the Roman Catholic Church.
The speakers emphasised the importance of creating truly inclusive communities where people of all abilities are empowered to fully participate in every aspect of church life. They praised Going to Church as a powerful tool for inclusion, helping people to find a common purpose and uniting communities.
Stephen Hall, CEO of Beyond Words, also outlined his vision for a network of Beyond Words book clubs in Churches of all denominations across the country.
The book was officially launched by a group of self-advocates, including Katie Carpenter, the co-author with Down’s syndrome whose experience of attending her local church formed the basis for the story.
Katie described her experience of developing the book: “Working on Going to Church was brilliant! I had to go on the train to London for meetings. My friends at Blakedown Church helped me with ideas. I hope the book helps people like me when they go to church.”
The late Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, Archbishop Emeritus of Westminster, said of the book:
“I warmly commend Going to Church – a story told so powerfully in pictures. Sometimes we forget people with learning disabilities and our need to connect to them in ways that help them to belong. This book is a marvellous reminder to all of us and I hope that it will be very widely read.”