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hope for churches in stress


Most churches strive to be accessible to people with the widest possible range of physical abilities. Normally, this involves ramp access, reserved parking, and barrier-free restrooms and rooms.

Marsh Creek BIC Church near Howard (Pa.) has taken accessibility to a higher level. After years of coping with encroaching eye disease, Pastor Dan Longmore is now completely blind. Yet the people of Marsh Creek Church have enfolded Pastor Dan in their hearts and arms. And Dan with his wife Marty press ahead with determination and resourcefulness in full and capable pastoral ministry.

Dan wears sunglasses, uses a long white cane, and relies on Marty as his guide. He uses assistive technology to listen to and compose emails, study web-based resources on audio function, and record sermon notes on an iPod for access later with an earbud (Prov. 1:5; 23:12).

Also using assistive technology, Dan and Marty supplement the compensation they receive from the church with bi-vocational work as announcer and technician for radio station WRGN FM (1 Thess. 2:9).

Without any visual cues, Dan listens to what people are saying and, with insights deeper than sight, discerns what they are not saying, what they are feeling, and what the Spirit is communicating directly, a marvelous gift and grace in pastoral work (Lk. 8:16-18).

In this blog post, I salute Dan and Marty Longmore—and the people of the Marsh Creek Church—not only as exceptional practitioners of accessibility, but as contemporary heroes of the faith (Heb. 11).

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