Disability, Faith, and the Church
Inclusion and Accommodation in Contemporary Congregations
by Courtney Wilder
April 2016, 158pp, 6 1/8x9 1/4
1 volume, Praeger

Hardcover: 978-1-4408-3884-2
$41, £31, 36€, A56
eBook Available: 978-1-4408-3885-9
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

People with disabilities remain underserved by churches, even as many denominations seek to change their doctrine and practices.

Including both theoretical discussions and practical information for congregational use or pastoral use, this rich, accessible book explores biblical text, historical and theological issues of disability, and examples of successful ministry by people with disabilities.

Disability, Faith, and the Church: Inclusion and Accommodation in Contemporary Congregations draws from a range of Christian theologians, denominational statements, writings of people with disabilities, and experiences of successful ministries for people with disabilities to answer the deep need of many Christian communities: to live out their calling by welcoming all people. By focusing on 20th- and 21st-century thinkers and political and religious practices, the book outlines best practices for congregations and supplies practical information that readers can apply in classroom or church settings.

The author draws on thinkers from a variety of Christian traditions—including Roman Catholicism, Episcopalianism, Lutheranism, and the Reform traditions—to provide a theologically robust discussion that remains accessible to churchgoers without formal theological training. Emphasis is placed on connecting formal theological reflection and the experiences of ordinary people with disabilities to existing congregational practices and denominational statements, thereby enabling readers to decide on the best ways to successfully include people with disabilities into their communities within the rich and diverse Christian theological tradition.


  • Engages a wide range of theological traditions and writings on disability within the Christian tradition
  • Provides disability-focused readings of biblical texts relevant to disability studies, both as ecclesial resources and for classroom use
  • Profiles individuals who are engaged in active ministry and church leadership while living with disabilities
  • Includes straightforward analysis of complicated social issues like disability and reproductive rights
Courtney Wilder, PhD, is professor of religion at Midland University, Fremont, NE. She has previously contributed chapters to Understanding Religion and Popular Culture: Theories, Themes, Products and Practices and to Praeger's God and Popular Culture: A Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Entertainment Industry's Most Influential Figure. She is past president of The North American Paul Tillich Society and is active in the Association of Teaching Theologians. Wilder earned her doctorate in systematic theology from the University of Chicago.


"Dr. Courtney Wilder’s accessible and engaging new book is a must-read for theology students, pastors, church members, disability activists, and anyone who seeks a more just and compassionate world and community. This informative book unmasks ableism, deconstructs traditional notions of ‘inclusion,’ challenges presumptions and stereotypes about people with disabilities, identifies inspiring best practices, and provides liberating, concrete strategies and resources for congregations seeking disability justice. I highly recommend it."—Dr. Jacqueline Bussie, Professor of Religion & Director of the Forum on Faith and Life, Concordia College

"This thoughtful volume not only serves as a useful introduction to disability in religious contexts but also carefully takes on many of the significant and persistent issues in the field today. Rather than offering simplistic interpretations or easy answers, Wilder's nuanced work invites reflection and engagement with these important issues, with each chapter naming key challenges and dilemmas, identifying resources and dialogue partners, presenting visions to which we might aspire, and highlighting questions for further reflection and conversation. This book covers significant ground and will be relevant to a wide audience—in church, academy, and beyond—and I highly recommend it to those who are new to this work as well as to those who already have significant experience with disability and religion."—Deborah Beth Creamer, Director of Accreditation, Association of Theological Schools

"Those of us with disabilities along with those who are allegedly abled both need to be reminded that we are created in God's image, that the message of salvation is for us, and that the congregation is our healing home. With empathy, sensitivity, and advocacy, Courtney Wilder draws to our attention this all too frequently neglected concern."—Ted Peters, Emeritus Professor of Systematic Theology and Ethics at Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary and California Lutheran University
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