Accessibility in the Church: An Honest Conversation

Upper House Events

12-12-2023 • 41 mins

Please view the video recording of this event on our YouTube channel:

The church is often tested in its capacity to serve all of God’s people well, as mandated in Scripture. When it comes to serving people with disabilities, the church at times pays close attention to those who persuasively and loudly raise their voices in self-advocacy. At other times, though, the church might fail to hear the voices of those whose self-advocacy is limited. This raises questions about how the church pays attention to—and creates space for—the diverse people it is mandated to serve, including those whose challenges and disabilities are not physically obvious.

Pastor Ashley McNary from Heartland Church in Sun Prairie will converse with local advocate and Christ follower Annie Heathcote, recently crowned Ms. Wheelchair Wisconsin. Together they will discuss the ways Annie negotiates the world on wheels, self-advocates, and works to educate others. Then they will discuss the ways the church is called—and might better serve—all God’s people, intentionally and practically.


This event was recorded on August 10, 2023.


About our Speakers:

Annie Heathcote is a Dane County resident recently crowned Ms. Wheelchair Wisconsin 2023. A frequent event speaker and participant on disability panels, Annie has also been interviewed for radio, podcasts, newspapers, social media, and television. Growing up with a form of Muscular Dystrophy, she brings deep perspective of what it takes to negotiate a world of obstacles and educate people whose knowledge of disability is limited. Her faith in God informs her view of herself and infuses her with contagious hope and determination. God has shown her that disability does not mean inability. Annie graduated from Madison College with high honors and two Associate Degrees, one in Graphic Design & Illustration and the other in Web & Digital Media Design. Her mission is to learn, grow, advocate, and collaborate with the disability community and others—to raise awareness and advance accessibility and inclusion. In her free time, Annie enjoys spending time with family and friends, traveling, making art, singing at church, and competing as an elite athlete in an adaptive sport called Power Soccer.

Ashley McNary is the Executive Pastor of Ministries at Heartland Church in Sun Prairie. She has advocated for kids with disabilities in several ways, including starting the Night to Remember Dance and the Wonderfully Made ministry at Heartland Church, designed for kids with disabilities/diverse needs. She helps lead efforts to make the church accessible to kids affected by intellectual or developmental disabilities, behavioral or emotional needs, sensory needs, limited vision or hearing, or who are blind or deaf.