The Horneman family of Chatham, Ontario, is able to attend church together again for the first time in more than 16 years, now that Calvary Christian Reformed Church has installed an elevator.
Tim Horneman, who has a disability that has affected him since youth, uses a wheelchair to move around. But because Calvary CRC is a multilevel structure, Horneman was unable to attend services. Most Sundays his mother, Rita, stayed with him as they watched services on television or listened to the speaker-phone service provided by the other CRCs in Chatham.
But this past year the church made major revisions to the building, including the addition of an elevator that would be able to accommodate Horneman’s wheelchair.
“Every church should try to be accessible, to have the whole body of Christ there,” said Rita. She noted, however, “It's a small congregation, and it’s not always feasible.”
A subsidy from the Canadian government’s Enabling Accessibility Fund and positive answers to some questions about the church’s future made this the right time to start the project.
While the building was under construction, the congregation worshiped outside or in backyards or parks, where Tim was able to get his first taste of weekly worship with his church family.
“Tim was visibly moved when he came into church again,” said Rev. Chris Schievink. “Because he cannot speak except through the voice of his computer, he communicates happiness through laughter, which can range from smirk to bellow. . . . At our service of celebration for the rededication of the building, we had a surprise for Tim: one of his poems was set to music so that the entire congregation could sing it during the service. He bellowed for that.”