Inclusive Language Suggestions

For some individuals, words can make the difference between partial participation and full inclusion in a worship service. Consider these alternative phrases for including persons with a variety of abilities in your congregational gatherings.

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Instead of saying…Say this…
“Please stand”“Please rise in body or spirit”
“Clap your hands” or “Raise your hands”“Praise with clapping or other movements”
“Sing”“Make a joyful noise” or “You may sing”
“Kneel”“Get into a position of humble prayer”
“Speak", "Repeat", "Say", or "Pray aloud”“Share with us (using voice, device, or other options)” or “You may speak, repeat, say, respond, or pray with us as you are able”
“Come to the Lord’s Supper table”“Join us in the Lord’s Supper” or “Let us serve you the Lord’s Supper”
“Dance”“Celebrate with movement”
“Shake hands, hug, or say hello”“Greet those around you”
“Please sit”“You may sit”
“Pass the offering plate/bucket/etc.” (see note 1 below)“You may give your tithes and offerings, which allows others to give as well” or “Ushers welcome your tithes and offerings”
“Go forth to your workplaces and schools…”“Go from here into the world around you”
“Write or fill out” (see note 2 below)"We welcome your response in written or other form"
“Watch or view” (see note 3 below)"Enjoy"

Note 1:

The traditions during a service in which congregants participate, such as the Lord’s Supper or offering, must be accessible for people with limited mobility and vision. Some individuals may need you to simply bring the Lord’s Supper or offering basket directly to them. It is important to know the abilities of those in your congregation and the accommodations that would allow them to participate.

Note 2:

When requesting congregants to fill out a paper or write something down, offer the option for someone to fill it out for them by dictation. Alternatively, you can make the form available electronically.

Note 3:

Visuals should be accompanied with an audio narration or description whenever possible. Alternatively, you can have someone available to describe the visuals to individuals with visual impairments.