Living in the Body: Disability as an Opportunity for Welcoming the Other

Життя в тілі: інвалідність як нагода прийняти іншого

29.07-3.08

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According to statistics of United Nations approximately 15% of the world's population, or about 1 billion people, live with disabilities. Despite significant shifts in the way we view disability that have occurred over the past thirty years in history, politics, and the social sciences, in many societies, people with disabilities continue to be charity cases with limited access to education and work. Ukraine is no exception. In the Ukrainian context, however, the situation is complicated by the Great War: in the last two years of the full-scale war, more than 20,000 men and women suffered at least one amputation. Some sources cite a much higher number – 50,000 people. The suffering of people with disabilities is exacerbated by the country's low economic standard of living and limited medical system. In addition, various communities, including Christian ones, overlook people with disabilities due to a variety of prejudices. This is also a result of the fact that Christian theology is seldom written from the perspective of people with disabilities. The result of this marginalization is that any form of disability, whether physical or mental, makes a person flawed in the Christian view.

Deviations from the ideal and beautiful creation in the "image of God" are stigmatized as sin and curse and thus become a cause of shame in society, in the church, or in the family. For this reason, persons with disabilities are often excluded from the life and practice of Christian communities, especially where the understanding of inclusiveness is reduced to the need to quickly cure their "abnormality." The church's focus on disability as a problem of impairment to be cured fails to recognize that the presence and active participation of persons with disabilities in ministry can be a gift of healing for the church community itself and its practices of hospitality, where no one, regardless of ability, feels excluded or unwanted.

Recognizing that most theological institutions and religious communities do not pay due attention to disability issues, the Eastern European Institute of Theology is organizing a Summer School on the Theology of Disability. We hope that this school will be a small step towards creating communities of healing and unity in diversity because life in the body of Christ is not only about belonging to a community but also about living with different people gifted with different abilities with which we learn to serve each other.

Featured Speakers 2024

The Summer School of Theology will host theologians, philosophers, religious scholars of various Christian traditions, as well as representatives of various religious movements, public personas, and cultural influencers.

Brian Brock

Professor of Moral and Practical Theology at the University of Aberdeen, Scotland. He has written scholarly works on the use of the Bible in Christian ethics as well as the ethics of technological development and the theology of disability. He is founder and managing editor of the academic monograph series T&T Clark Enquiries in Theological Ethics, is Managing Editor of the Journal of Disability and Religion and President-elect of the Society for the Study of Christian Ethics.

Sarah Barton

Theologian and occupational therapist with a Doctor of Theology degree from Duke Divinity School. She completed her occupational therapy training at Boston University. Her research interests include theology and disability, research in collaboration with people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, bioethics, liturgy, and occupational engagement in religious activities. She is the author of Becoming the Baptized Body: Disability and the Practice of Christian Community (Baylor University Press).

Léon van Ommen

Senior Lecturer in Practical Theology at the University of Aberdeen, where he is also Co-Director of the Centre for Autism and Theology. His research focuses on liturgy/worship and autism. Dr van Ommen is currently researching the sensory aspects of worship and liturgy in relation to autism. He also studies autism and spirituality, with a focus on non- or minimally-speaking autistic people and Black autistic people in the United Kingdom. Léon is author of numerous publications, including his recently published Autism and Worship: A Liturgical Theology (Baylor University Press, 2023).

Thomas Reynolds

Associate Professor of Theology at Emmanuel College at the University of Toronto. While especially interested in interreligious dialogue and disability studies, he also teaches and writes on a range of topics related to constructive theology, theological method, intercultural engagements, contextual theologies, philosophical theology, and the thought and influence of Friedrich Schleiermacher. One of his latest books is Vulnerable Communion: A Theology of Disability and Hospitality.

Louise Gosbell

Research Manager at the Australian College of Theology. Prior to that she worked at Mary Andrews College for 11 years in various roles including lecturer in New Testament, Dean of Students, and College Principal. Louise’s research is in the area of biblical studies and focuses primarily on disability in the biblical texts as well as writing more broadly on disability and church practice. She is the author of The Poor, The Crippled, The Blind, and the Lame: Physical and Sensory Disability in the Gospels of the New Testament (Mohr Siebeck).

Benjamin Conner

Professor of Practical Theology at Western Theological Seminary in Holland, Michigan, where he is director of the Graduate Certificate in Disability and Ministry. Received his PhD from Princeton Theological Seminary. He is the author of Amplifying Our Witness: Giving Voice to Adolescents with Developmental Disabilities and Practicing Witness: A Missional Vision of Christian Practices.

Elizabeth Silayo

Pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Tanzania (ELCT). As a member of the United Evangelical Mission, she coordinates ecumenical relationships and activities of all Protestant congregations in the area of the rivers Rhine and Lahn, Germany. She wrote her dissertation about theology in the context of people living with disabilities “The Chagga Concepts of Disability and Their Implications on People with Disabilities.” This work examines the rituals and other practices of the Chagga people that involve harming, degrading, and excluding people with disabilities.

Amy Jacober

Ph.D., MSW, a scholar specializing in adolescence and disability, lecturing at Ottawa University. She is a practical theologian, noted author and speaker on disability and underserved populations. She also currently serves as the Lead Pastor of a trauma-informed congregation in central Phoenix, Arizona. She is the author of several articles and books including Redefining Perfect: The Interplay between Theology and Disability.

Tabita Kartika Christiani

Tabita Kartika Christiani earned her doctorate in Comparative Theology at Boston College, USA. She is a Professor of Religious Education at the Faculty of Theology, Duta Wacana Christian University, Yogyakarta, Indonesia. Her research interests include disability theology, religious education, and Christian education. She is a member of the Ecumenical Disability Advocates Network (EDAN) of the World Council of Churches.

Josh Morris

Assistant Professor of Practical Theology at Union Presbyterian Seminary. Dr. Morris is an ordained minister with the United Church of Christ and a Board-Certified Chaplain through the Association of Professional Chaplains. He also brings fifteen years of experience as a chaplain in military and healthcare contexts. He is the author of Moral Injury Among Returning Veterans: From “Thank You for Your Service” to a Liberative Solidarity and numerous peer-reviewed articles in Pastoral PsychologyJournal of Pastoral Theology and Reflective Practice..

Petre Maican

Petre Maican holds a PhD in Systematic Theology from the University of Aberdeen, Scotland. Since his graduation, he worked as Teaching Fellow at the University of Aberdeen and Postdoctoral Researcher at UCLouvain, Belgium. His current research project lies at the crossroad between theological anthropology, intellectual disability, and Eastern Orthodox spirituality. His latest book entitled Deification and Modern Orthodox Theology (Brill, 2023).

Oleksandr Geychenko

Rector of the Odesa Theological Seminary, Ukraine. He received his PhD from the University of St. Andrews, UK. Since 2015, he has been working as an Issue Editor of the Theological Reflections: Eastern-European Journal of Theology.

Halyna Teslyuk

Associate Professor of Biblical Studies at the Department of Philosophy and Theology at the Ukrainian Catholic University, and a doctoral fellow at the University of California, Berkeley, and the Consortium for Graduate Theological Studies, USA. Her research interests include biblical studies, cultural memory, women's studies, and the history of ancient Near East.

Cherith Hunt

Founding Director of Central Africa Baptist University's groundbreaking Deaf Studies program – the first of its kind in Zambia. She holds a BA in Biblical Studies with an emphasis on Counseling from Northland International University and an MA in Curriculum and Instruction: Special Education from Liberty University. She has been working with the Deaf community in the United States and Africa for over 13 years.

Volodymyr Moisei

Practical psychologist, public activist, journalist and military chaplain. He is a Ukrainian, European, and world record holder, and the strongest man with one arm in the deadlift category. He is a Guinness World Record holder. Moisei is currently engaged at the Ukrainian Evangelical Theological Seminary in developing various methodological programs for people with disabilities.

Ștefana Răcorean

Psychologist and has worked as a psychotherapist in private practice for more than 15 years now. Ștefana also graduated with a Master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy from Wheaton College, USA. Currently, she is a doctoral student in theology at the University of Bucharest.

Oleh Pravets

Senior Lecturer of Biblical Studies at the Faculty of Philosophy and Theology at the Ukrainian Catholic University. He received his licentiate in Biblical Studies at the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome, Italy, and received his doctorate in Theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. He is a specialist in biblical and ancient Near Eastern literature, history and culture of ancient Israel and the peoples of the Middle East, and theology.

School Schedule 2024

Simultaneous Ukrainian translation of all English lectures will be provided.

July 29

2 pm (EEST Kyiv time)
1 pm (CEST)
7 am (EDT New York time)

TBD

Speaker: Oleksandr Geychenko

Language: Ukrainian

Translation: English

4 pm (EEST Kyiv time)
3 pm (CEST)
9 am (EDT New York time)
Introducing Disability Theology: The State of the Discipline and the State of the Churches
Speaker: Brian Brock

Language: English

Translation: Ukrainian

6 pm (EEST Kyiv time)
5 pm (CEST)
11 am (EDT New York time)
Identity, (Dis)Ability and Belonging: Liturgy and Worship through the Lens of Autism
Speaker: Léon van Ommen

Language: English

Translation: Ukrainian

July 30

2 pm (EEST Kyiv time)
1 pm (CEST)
7 am (EDT New York time)

Interpreting the Jesus’ Healing Narratives in Light of Disability Studies

Speaker: Louise Gosbell

Language: English

Translation: Ukrainian

4 pm (EEST Kyiv time)
3 pm (CEST)
9 am (EDT New York time)
TBD
Спікер: Корі Пікок

Language: Ukrainian

Translation: English

6 pm (EEST Kyiv time)
5 pm (CEST)
11 am (EDT New York time)
Disability from an Old Testament Perspective: Challenges and Opportunities
Speaker: Oleh Pravets

Language: English

Translation: Ukrainian

July 31

2 pm (EEST Kyiv time)
1 pm (CEST)
7 am (EDT New York time)

Disability and Intersectionality: Focus on Africa

Speaker: Elizabeth Silayo

Language: English

Translation: Ukrainian

4 pm (EEST Kyiv time)
3 pm (CEST)
9 am (EDT New York time)
Disability and the Kingdom of God: Accessible Spaces and Inclusive Practices
Speaker: Cherith Hunt

Language: English

Translation: Ukrainian

6 pm (EEST Kyiv time)
5 pm (CEST)
11 am (EDT New York time)
Ways We Witness: Disability and the Mission of the Church
Speaker: Benjamin Conner

Language: English

Translation: Ukrainian

August 1

2 pm (EEST Kyiv time)
1 pm (CEST)
7 am (EDT New York time)

TBD

Speaker: TBD

Language: English

Translation: Ukrainian

4 pm (EEST Kyiv time)
3 pm (CEST)
9 am (EDT New York time)
Terrible Beauty: The Aesthetics of Disability and Friendship in Eastern Orthodoxy
Speaker: Petre Maican

Language: English

Translation: Ukrainian

6 pm (EEST Kyiv time)
5 pm (CEST)
11 am (EDT New York time)
Disability and Welcome: Baptism as a Practice of Hospitality
Speaker: Sarah Barton

Language: English

Translation: Ukrainian

August 2

2 pm (EEST Kyiv time)
1 pm (CEST)
7 am (EDT New York time)

Shame and Disability: An Asian Perspective

Speaker: Tabita Kartika Christiani

Language: English

Translation: Ukrainian

4 pm (EEST Kyiv time)
3 pm (CEST)
9 am (EDT New York time)
Enabling Faith: Ministry with Children and Teens in a Disabling World
Speaker: Amy Jacober

Language: English

Translation: Ukrainian

6 pm (EEST Kyiv time)
5 pm (CEST)
11 am (EDT New York time)
Moral Injury: Politics and Care
Speaker: Josh Morris

Language: English

Translation: Ukrainian

August 3

2 pm (EEST Kyiv time)
1 pm (CEST)
7 am (EDT New York time)

Coming Alongside People Who Lost Limbs in the War

Speaker: Volodymyr Moisei

Language: Ukrainian

Translation: English

4 pm (EEST Kyiv time)
3 pm (CEST)
9 am (EDT New York time)
Evangelical Christians’ Experience with Mental Health Disorders
Speaker: Ștefana Răcorean

Language: English

Translation: Ukrainian

6 pm (EEST Kyiv time)
5 pm (CEST)
11 am (EDT New York time)
TBD
Speaker: TBD

Language: English

Translation: Ukrainian

To Participate in the School, You Need

To participate in the school, you need to fill out the registration form. Immediately after registration, you will receive a confirmation email with information on how to join the event. The Zoom link is unique to each participant, so please do not share your registration information with anyone else. Each participant must register separately and receive their own link to join the meeting. You will also be able to add the event to your calendar so that you do not miss the lectures. Participants who register by July 22 will receive detailed information on how to participate in the school (one week before the start of the school), as well as materials from the speakers to prepare for the lectures. If you do not receive a confirmation email, please check your spam folder. If there is no confirmation either, write to us at office@eeit-edu.info (please indicate "Summer School of Theology 2024" in the subject line). The School is free for everyone.

We encourage all participants to join our Facebook community to get more information about our speakers, lecture topics, possible changes to the schedule, and other organizational details. We do not spam with advertisements or a lot of news. After submitting a request to join the group, await approval from the administrator.

All lectures from the previous sessions of 2022 and 2023 can be found on our YouTube channel (in the original language).

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