Summer in the Forest

Summer in the Forest

What does it look like to incorporate inclusion into every aspect of life?

A man named Jean Vanier asked that question more than five decades ago. He was concerned about the way that people with disabilities seemed to be cut off from the rest of society. “We must do what we can to diminish walls, to meet each other,” he wrote. “Why do we put people with disabilities behind walls?”

The Friendship Ministries staff recently had an opportunity to preview the film Summer in the Forest, a documentary that follows the ministry of Jean Vanier and L’Arche Communities in France. Our Executive Director Tom VanWingerden said that the documentary “invites you to sit back, reflect, and give thanks for all the little things that we all so often take for granted.”

An honored and well-respected leader in creating inclusive communities with people with disability, Vanier’s story has inspired thousands of people around the globe. His L’Arche Communities, which began as one single home in Trosly-Breuil, France, now stretch across 37 countries. They focus on people with disabilities and their caretakers living and growing together in quiet pockets of community. Vanier’s most famous principle is that “people with disabilities are teachers, rather than burdens.”

From Friendship Ministries Canada, Heather DeBoer recommends the documentary for church leaders and members. “Here’s a great documentary on Jean Vanier, his journey with L’Arche, and its continued growth throughout the world,” shares Heather. “Vanier’s approach to people living with disabilities remains fresh to this day, something we can all learn from. I recommend every church to see this film, then implement Vanier’s philosophy on inclusion.”

Inclusion is key to Friendship Ministries – the idea that true community is found in friendships and belonging, not just in curriculum. We encourage you to check out Summer in the Forest and share it with your church.

“We are not called by God not to do extraordinary things, but to do ordinary things with extraordinary love.”
—Jean Vanier

Upcoming Screenings

March 23-29 Village East Cinema New York, NY
April 6-12 Laemmle Music Hall Beverly Hills, CA
April 6-12 Laemmle Playhouse Pasadena, CA
April 6-12 Laemmle Town Center Encino, CA
April 11 The Prospector Theatre Ridgefield, CT

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