A 12-year-old best-selling author will help open CRE – and speak up for the speechless.
Jonathan Bryan, who has quadriplegic cerebral palsy, is entirely non-verbal. He uses an alphabet board to spell out everything he wants to say and in his book, Eye Can Write, reflects on his Christian faith.
Jonathan’s father, Rev Christopher Bryan is rector of Gauzebrook and area dean of North Wilts. His son’s faith, rooted in a profound experience of the life to come, is both ‘hugely inspiring and challenging. The prospect of going to be with Christ is such a strong and real thing it totally informs his attitude to death, getting ill and everything. That really makes you think about your own attitude.’
In the days after Jonathan’s birth, and for the first time in her life, Jonathan’s mother, Chantal, prayed until she was ‘spent’, joined by others over the country — strangers, in many instances.
‘God answered our prayers,’ she told the Church Times. ‘Jonathan survived, and, OK, he is stuck in a body here that doesn’t work very well, but, actually, what has been transformed out of that is something that none of us would have thought of in the early days. His faith encourages others. I say now sometimes that he is more healed, in a way, than the rest of us. A lot of people are still trying to find out who they are and what they are, and he is happy with who he is.’
The Bryan family have set up a charity, Teach Us Too (a panel about the organisation will be on display at CRE), promoting the right for all children to be taught to read and write, whatever their label or diagnosis. Three more organisations will exhibit under the Churches for All banner – each committed to improving universal access to church buildings and programmes. Count Everyone In, The Lodge Trust, and Torch Trust will offer visitors a breadth of experience and depth of knowledge on disability issues.
Opening the exhibition will be singer/songwriter Marilyn Baker, blind almost from birth, who will be accompanied by a choir from Notre Dame school in Cobham, using Makaton, a language programme using signs and symbols to help people communicate.
Gordon Temple, executive officer for Churches for All, says: ‘CRE presents a great opportunity to support and encourage churches as they strive to welcome, include and involve people living with disabilities in every aspect of church life.’
• Churches for All will hold a seminar at CRE 2018 (12pm, Tue 16 Oct)
Click here for a list of more than 200 exhibitors at CRE 2018
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