Sight Loss Sunday enables blind and partially sighted people to serve in church
When someone begins losing their sight, they are often no longer able to contribute to church life as they did when they were sighted. Sight Loss Sunday, taking place on 17 October, is encouraging churches to become more aware of the needs of blind and partially sighted people in their communities and to allow them to use their gifts, talents and abilities once again.
Almost 2 million people live with sight loss in the UK, with someone being told that they are losing their sight every six minutes (RNIB 2018). It is therefore likely that 20% of an average church congregation will experience a loss of vision which cannot be corrected by spectacles or contact lenses.
Through the provision of readings in braille and large print; suggested hymns, songs and prayers; resources for children's groups; sermon materials; and text and audio/visual contributions from people with sight loss; congregations will be made more aware of the needs of people with sight loss in church, and church leaders will be empowered to involve people with sight loss in every aspect of their services, from reading scripture, to playing in the worship band, to preaching or giving testimony. Through observing Sight Loss Sunday, churchgoers of all ages will experience first hand the breadth of skills and talents that people with sight loss have to offer and will be much more prepared to enable them to serve in future.
Matthew Horspool, Sight Loss Friendly Church Advisor at Torch Trust and himself totally blind, said: "I feel immensely privileged to be able to serve in my own church and it makes me sad to think that others in similar positions to myself are not able to share in that privilege. Sight Loss Sunday is a fantastic opportunity to change this landscape for the better and I look forward to seeing churches take it up."
All of the resources are available for free download from www.sightlossfriendlychurch.org.uk/slsunday with braille and large print editions available by calling 01858 438260.
Torch Trust, a registered charity in England and Wales no. 1095904, believes that people with sight loss have an equal and valuable part to play in church and communities. Established in 1959, it enables people with sight loss to have fulfilling Christian lives by providing accessible Christian resources and services, encouraging people to have confidence in God and themselves; providing expert advice and guidance, enabling churches and Christian communities to be inclusive of people with sight loss; and inspiring sight loss organisations locally and globally to consider the spiritual needs of their clients. Of particular note is its free lending library of over 2000 Christian titles in braille, large print and audio; its resource shop, providing access to leading Christian courses, magazines and devotionals in alternative formats; and its comprehensive advice and guidance service.
The Sight Loss Friendly Church campaign was launched by Torch Trust in 2019 and has so far attracted over 300 churches from around the United Kingdom. Its aims are to inspire, equip and enable churches to fully include those with sight loss; to ensure that every individual with sight loss is equally valued in church communities; and to reassure individuals and communities that sight loss is not a barrier to any level of engagement within church. Membership is free for churches and other eligible organisations on completion of a simple online form, and entitles them to tailored advice and training, opportunities to engage with other Sight Loss Friendly Churches, and access to the Torch shop.