Amazing Gifts



Amazing Gifts

Stories of Faith, Disability, and Inclusion


Amazing Gifts: Stories of Faith, Disability, and Inclusion. By Mark Pinsky. Alban Institute (2011).

Cover of Amazing Gifts

A book review by Kathy Dickson

mazing Gifts: Stories of Faith, Disability, and Inclusionmazing Gifts: Stories of Faith, Disability, and Inclusion could hardly have been written quickly enough. At a time in history when the movement toward inclusion (and beyond) grows stronger—and must become stronger yet—this book is a testimony. It is a testimony to the work and lives of many individuals, congregations, families, and communities who have made, and are making, their mark in the journey toward being wholly inclusive communities.

The book’s strong body of stories is unmatched, with collective wisdom drawn across denominations, situations, and people from a variety of backgrounds and experiences, contexts and roles.  The book engages three broad categories: (1) giving voice to the work of pastors, chaplains, administrators; (2) sharing the experiences of people with disabilities engaged in ministry; and (3) identifying the ways disability has inspired family members who enter the work of ministry.

Many of the names in this book you may know. Other profound voices are emerging into the landscape that comprises this “civil rights movement” toward communities that might be more whole.

Pinksy has pulled together stories that illustrate the breaking down of barriers. The barriers of architecture, communication, and attitude emerge as themes of the stories presented in short, easy-to-read segments. We hear from pastors, chaplains, administrators, and friends about congregations that work creatively to begin ministries with group homes in their communities.

Christine Guth

We hear from ADNet’s own Christine Guth about her journey with mental illness and how the church impacted the life of her family along the way. We hear of Bill Gaventa’s journey as a young chaplain working with people touched in some way by disability. We see through his stories how those voices shaped him into a much needed leader in the field of building bridges in congregations and communities.

We hear from family members like Courtney Smith, formerly of Peaceful Living Center in Pennsylvania, whose heart-wrenching struggle to find God in the initial days of her sons’ autism diagnoses turned into a motivated vision to begin the Links of Love ministry serving persons with disabilities and their families and friends.

We hear from other mothers and siblings, such as Kathleen Deyer Bolduc, whose book Autism and Alleluias receives accolades in a review on our ADNet website. Stanley Hauerwas, named America’s top theologian in 2001 by TIME magazine, shares about his marriage to someone with a mental illness and his own theological insights regarding the role of congregations in the work of hospitality to people with disabilities.

The stories in this collection will inspire you. They will touch you. And if you let them, they will serve as a call to action in your own community, where persons with disabilities of all kinds live, work, and worship!

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