Bethany Sheldahl’s weblog “Not of this World”

It’s a new blog, with a number of posts which can be found and accessed in the right column of her blog. Here’s one:

Church Survival Kit 

A Curious title. Bethany is an Orthodox Christian. Why would anyone need tips on surviving our glorious Divine Liturgy? For most of us, this is not an issue, because most of us are “neurotypical.” This is a term used by people of the autistic community concerning those who are not on the autism spectrum. Some expand this distinction beyond the community of those in the autism spectrum to all those whose who are neurologically diverse (including people who are bipolar, dyslexic, who have ADHD, and the like). From this point of view, such neurotypes simply are manifesting natural human variation, rather than disability. This viewpoint has been given the name “neurodiversity.” 

The Divine Liturgy was designed by the Holy Spirit for the majority, the neurotypical. In the weblog post above (in orange, which designates a live URL) Bethany, as person on the autism spectum describes how she copes with the overwhelming multi-sensory experience which is the Divine Liturgy. 

It is helpful for us all to consider how others experience this central foundation of Orthodox Christian life. And I am delighted to see those who are neurologically diverse, especially Orthodox Christians explain their lives themselves. 

Just a note- when I developed this weblog nine years ago I had not considered the viewpoint of neurodiversity, as you cn see from the title: Arms Open Wide: Orthodox Christian Disability Resources. I do not mean to offend those who do not count their neurology not as a disability, but as a variation. 

Enjoy Bethany’s post.

picture from Full of Grace and Truth

Myriam Shwayri on the Al-Kafaat Foundation

Church in Beirut, Lebanon

Al-Kafaat means “abilities;” people with disabilities also have abilities, and this is the focus of this Lebanese ministry. It is a ministry that is strongly supported by the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America.

The following article is the text of a presentation given by Myriam N. Shwayri, daughter of the founder of Al-Kafaat Foundation in the country of Lebanon, during the 48th Self-Ruled Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese Convention in Montreal, Canada, on July 26, 2007. To access the presentation:

The Al-Kafaàt Foundation | Orthodox Church

Also, hear an in-depth interview with Myriam on The Arabic Hour:

The website of Al-Kafaat:  The Al-Kafaàt Foundation


Moscow, Russia: Dienna’s Dream Fund

Diema was a child in one of Russia’s “baby houses” in the 1990’s which were very poorly funded and staffed; the conditions were horrendous. He had a large head because of  hydrocephaly and was a paraplegic; his legs were paralyzed. Mary Dudley first met Diema at the Baby house and kept up with him as best she could. Mary and her sister later began this foundation to improve the lives of disabled children in Russia. 

Here is an up-to-date report on the foundation: DIEMA’S DREAM FUND NEWS

One of the efforts of this Foundation is Diema’s Dream Village 

Also, their Creative workshopThese children develop skills that they can hone and develop. Through these skills they can express the human worth that they always had to begin with.

5 Russians engaged in the struggle toward mental health


 From an article in A Journal of Orthodox Faith and Culture: Road to Emmaus, the stories of five Russians from  who have struggled to overcome mental illness. The article is entitled George, Nadezhda, Tatiana, Sergei, & Michael. It is an interview with the five, who speak for themselves. Scroll down on the pdf to page two for the interviews. To access:


The Community of St. Elizabeth in Minsk

St. Elisabeth the New Martyr

On The Community of St. Elisabeth the New Martyr in Minsk, from the Russian website Pravmir, written by Ekaterina Stepanova, translated by Batalia Tsyguleva, and edited by Hierodeaon Samuel (Nedelsky): The Black-and-White Sisters 

This community serves people with disabilities, the sick, and the poor. Their website: Saint Elisabeth Convent; The web page describing their work: Ministry; A video on the Community:   People of God. Icon from  Logismoi 

From THE WORD, March 2009: “Helping Martin Succeed”

Here is a personal story by an Orthodox Christian mother, Gina Bernard, concerning her son, Martin, in regard to his gifts and progress in light of his disability. It can be accessed by clicking on the March 2009 issue and accessing pages six and seven at this web address: Helping Martin Succeed 

One of Martin’s pastimes is writing stories. 

The Parish family at St. Andrew Orthodox Church, Riverside, California

I’m looking forward to one day reading some of them.
Picture from: St. 

OCAMPR Conference Nov. 5-7, 2015: “Caregivers as Confessors and Healers”

Saints Cosmas and Damian, unmercenary healers

To Access the Website: OCAMPR Conference Nov. 5-7, 2015: “Caregivers as Confessors and Healers”

This conference will take place at Holy Cross Seminary, Boston Massachusetts: Holy Cross

From the OCAMPR website:


OCAMPR exists to foster interdisciplinary dialogue and promote Christian fellowship among healing professionals in medicine, psychology and religion. Members pursue an understanding of the whole person which integrates the basic assumptions of medicine, psychology and religion within the Orthodox Christian faith in educating and serving Church and community.

OCAMPR contributes to the spiritual sustenance and growth of helping and healing professionals who experience their Orthodox Christian faith as the center of their professional life and ministry.  Inter-jurisdictional and endorsed by the Episcopal Assembly (formerly SCOBA),  OCAMPR is for those who seek to better understand and experience the best relationship between theology and the healing arts and sciences, to better offer their services in the light of Christ’s truth and the Church’s healing wisdom.

Members share a love for Christ and the holistic view of personhood and sacredness inherent in Eastern Orthodoxy as it informs their professional lives and practices in medicine, nursing, mental health, psychology, ethics, theology, parish ministry, parish nursing, prison and community ministry, social services, and military, institutional and community chaplaincy.

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