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Disability and Vocations

First published on: 2nd December 2021

Montage of people who share their stories

To mark International Day of People with Disabilities, on 3 December 2021, Christians in the Church of England in Greater Manchester and Rossendale who live with different disabilities share very personal stories on video about how they have found a welcome in the Church of England and been encouraged to fulfil their Christian calling.

In a series of short films released today, a diverse group of Christians who are training for ministry in the Church of England, or who already serve as clergy, tell their stories in moving and honest accounts.

In the five films we hear from ordinands, who are studying at theological colleges, a serving member of clergy and a retired minister who lost his sight as an adult. Each contributor has something to say about how people who have experience of living with a disability, either personally or within their family, can flourish in the Church.

Helen Tyler, who was diagnosed with dyslexia just as she started discerning her calling to ordained ministry and was worried about the training, said:“I realized ‘I can’t fix this. This is all part of me – it’s who I am – and I’ve got to learn to try and embrace it. I am still on that journey.’”

Helen had this advice for someone in a similar situation: “Know your strengths, but also, be aware of what you struggle with and don’t be afraid or embarrassed to ask for help because there are people out there who are willing to help you.”

Canon Nick Smeeton, Director of Vocations in the Diocese of Manchester, commissioned the films. He said: “As part of our ongoing work to encourage and enable everyone to fulfill their vocation in the Church, we wanted to hear from individuals who have experience of living with any type of disability, either themselves or within their family, as they pursue their calling. We are very grateful to the men and women at various stages in the discernment process who have volunteered to tell their stories on camera.

“We are challenged and will continue to do more to encourage vocations from as diverse a group of people as possible.”

The five films are published to mark International Day of People with Disabilities on 3 December 2021. Further films will be added to the series in the coming weeks.

View the videos at

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