Disabled Church – Disabled Society: New Hope!

EDINBURGH, CARDIFF & LONDON, March 24th, 2014: In a landmark lecture at Swansea University this week, a leading Welsh historian and theologian will argue that our thinking about welfare and economics needs to be turned upside down through engagement with disabled people and carers.

In his presentation ‘Disabled church – disabled society’, the Rev Dr John Gillibrand will suggest that care-giving and care-receiving, as a basic and indispensible human need, is a means of exchange which can challenge our current assumptions about money and austerity-based economic policy.

“So much policy about public services is determined by people who may well never have never had the experience of being totally dependent upon the delivery of quality these services,” Dr Gillibrand told the beliefs and values think-tank Ekklesia, which is co-promoting the event. “This was the situation my me and my family.”

The title of the lecture ‘Disabled church – disabled society’ (Monday 24 March 2014, 7pm, University of Swansea) is that of Dr Gillibrand’s book, which was nominated for the Michael Ramsay Prize last year.

“In the book, I reflect on the experience of caring for our son Adam, who is a young man on the autistic spectrum. If I was to sum up the message of the book it is that autism presents challenges to the whole western tradition of thought,” says the Welsh Anglican priest and author.

“In my lecture I shall call for the creation of a ‘care economy’. It is the kind of economy and society in which we all actually want to live,” says Dr Gillibrand.

“In 2008 we discovered that the economic system was broken beyond repair. Instead of trying to make the existing system ‘resilient’ we should be trying to think through what new economic structures would look like.

“If your economic beliefs make you think that austerity is inevitable all that tells me is that it is time to re-examine your economic beliefs. The pain of doing that will be much less than the pain that austerity is bringing to so many lives.

“I will be dedicating the lecture to my son Adam. He is virtually without speech but has taught me so much,” Dr Gillibrand says.


Notes to Editors1. Founded in 2001, Ekklesia examines politics, values and beliefs in a changing world, from a Christian perspective in dialogue with others. It is an independent, ecumenical think-tank which is not aligned to any particular denomination, but draws inspiration from Anabaptist and Peace Church traditions. More information here.

2. The 24 March lecture ‘Disabled church – disabled society’, by Dr John Gillibrand, is part of Swansea University’s Theology 2013/14 public lecture series. Details here.

3. John Gillibrand is a priest in the Church in Wales (Offeriad Anglican ac awdur). His book Disabled Church – Disabled Society is published by Jessica Kingsley Publishers. His doctoral studies carried out at the University of Wales, Bangor, were on the applicability of the thought of Michel Foucault to Christian theology. He lives in Carmarthenshire, Wales and works in the Diocese of St David’s in West Wales / Cymru. Follow him on Twitter at: @john_gillibrand

4. A short article prefiguring the lecture is available on Ekklesia here.

5. It is intended that the lecture will be recorded and made available subsequently. For live tweet information follow @john_gillibrand



Simon Barrow
Co-director, Ekklesia
simon.barrow@ekklesia.co.uk office@ekklesia.co.uk
07850 120413
Contact the lecturer/author directly:

John Gillibrand
01559 371170 (office) 07971 467651 (mob)

News release distributed by Ekklesia, a thinktank which examines the role of religion in public life. Ekklesia is a not-for- profit limited company no. 5831226.


The ‘Ekklesia’ Think Tank in the U.K., which alerts both Church and society to situations which affect both in the modern world, is here promoting a lecture by the Revd. Dr. John Gillibrand, priest-theologian in the Anglican Church in Wales.

Gillibrand’s book – ‘Disabled Church – Disabled Society’, challenges the current way in which the community of the disabled is viewed by both Church and Society in the U.K. but which, of course, impinges on churches and societies in every country.

In a world where the disabled are often looked upon as a ‘burden’, this revolutionary new understanding of the disabled, and how their ‘disability’ can help us all to enter into a new understanding of our co-dependence on one another – not just for survival but for a more fulfilled and meaningful existence  – is a necessary corrective.

Every human being needs encouragement to enter into their fullest human capacity – no matter what their perceived disability. Above all, those of us who subscribe to the Gospel incentive towards the fullness of life that Jesus promises for all, ought to be mindful of the corporate responsibility we have for one another in God’s world.

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand


About kiwianglo

Retired Anglican priest, living in Christchurch, New Zealand. Ardent supporter of LGBT Community, and blogger on 'Thinking Anglicans UK' site. Theology: liberal, Anglo-Catholic & traditional. regarding each person as a unique expression of Christ, and therefore lovable.
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One Response to Disabled Church – Disabled Society: New Hope!

  1. Many thanks for your comments – much appreciated.

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