Westminster Seminars

Event details

  • Sunday | November 24, 2019
  • 09:45 AM - 10:45 AM
  • Galbreath Chapel
  • 412-835-6630

Suffer the Little Children: Disability, Childhood, and the Church
Jessica Benham
Center for Bioethics and Health Law, the University of Pittsburgh

In 1968, NBC10 ran a scathing exposé of the Pennhurst State School, revealing that the institution, which housed children and adults with developmental and intellectual disabilities, was rife with abuse and neglect. The title of the exposé, Suffer the Little Children, echoed the words of Jesus in Matthew 19:14, “Suffer the little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for such is the kingdom of heaven.” And yet, the vast majority of institutional residents were well into adulthood, with an average age of 40. This seminar explores questions including: What are the implications of referring to adults with intellectual disability/developmental disability (ID/DD) as children, especially with such religious overtones? What does it even mean to be childlike? And how should the church change its treatment of people with ID/DD?

A member of Hot Metal Bridge Faith Community, Jessica Benham received her MA in bioethics in 2019 from the University of Pittsburgh; her thesis is titled Childhood and Disability: Ethical Considerations. She is currently completing her doctorate in communication at Pitt. An advocate for rights of individuals with autism, she serves as Director of Development at the Pittsburgh Center for Autistic Advocacy.

Advent Series
Louise Rogers

During December, Louise Rogers will lead us to look at angels. They have played important roles in Christian spirituality down through the centuries, and today are featured prominently in movies, television shows, and other cultural offerings. Over four weeks, we will explore what is said about angels both in the Bible and today. And we will review how angels have been portrayed throughout the centuries.

December 1 – Angels: God’s Messengers
December 8 – Angels: A Heavenly Go Between
December 15 – Angels in Art History
December 22 – Angels Among Us