#EqualAccess Series Guest Post: Getting To Where I am Called

by Maggie Slighte

This post is part of The Exponent’s #EqualAccess Series. Disabled voices rarely get a chance to speak for themselves, but this blog series seeks to eliminate the stigma that disabled people are less than, and need a representative to speak on their behalf. This blog series is intended to break stereotypes by gathering the voices of disabled individuals. #DisabilityExperience

Maggie sitting by the Ft. Lauderdale Temple in Florida on a beautiful sunny day
Maggie sitting by the Ft. Lauderdale Temple in Florida on a beautiful sunny day
Photo by Jacob Larsen

Three years after my baptism, I met Elder Bradley Foster of the Seventy in the Snowflake Temple. He asked me what brought me to the Church. 

I answered confidently, “My ancestors.” 

Elder Foster smiled and agreed. 

When the temple president entered, I was surprised when I wasn’t interviewed, but quickly set apart as an Office Worker. I was then sent off to meet the rest of the office staff, including the recorder and the assistant recorder.

That was in 2016. It was another year and a half before I was prescribed a wheelchair for a reaction to an antibiotic. Subsequent recurrent episodes of pneumonia and bronchitis made me leery of attending Sacrament service during the winter months. My granddaughters and I were attending Church in the same ward for the first time in my church membership, and yet I began feeling estranged from my ward family. 

I long to return to the temple. I’m a single woman. I feel the power of the priesthood President Nelson talks about when I’m in the temple performing service. It is the ONLY place where my priesthood service is recognized and requested. 

A multiple trauma survivor with PTSD, I previously found that service in the temple brought me peace. When I lost the physical ability to dress and undress myself, I worried how I could manage in the temple. 

About a month after my powerchair was delivered, my bishop asked me how I get in the door of the church. He had noticed that the doors of our meetinghouse, which is also the stake center, had no access button. 

I answered I wait for someone to open it. After reflection, I mentioned I was concerned and didn’t feel that it displayed an attitude of “welcome” to the public who come to visit.  The bishop agreed and stated he would mention it to the stake. I continued, asking about an accessible ride to the temple for this Temple and Family History Consultant. He answered that he would look into it.  

The Seattle temple is several hours away by public transit. I don’t have a health care assistant who is a Church member to help me dress. I can’t be dressed by people who don’t understand my condition. 

I do my best to get to church on Sunday. I don’t go often due to illnesses. I spend my Sundays with my ancestors on FamilySearch. They have an eternal perspective; I’m working on mine. 

Bio: Following Maggie Slighte’s baptism into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 2013, Maggie finished her Bachelor degree. She is currently working on her Masters of Fine Arts in Creative Nonfiction Writing and finishing her first book, The Car That Ran on Prayers. Her author website is MaggieSlighte.com and her testimony can be found at SisterMaggie.com.

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2 Responses

  1. EmilyCC says:

    This is such a helpful and lovely piece, Maggie. (In fact, I got this post up late because I was busy preparing for nursery. So, it was a doubly helpful reminder that those who most want to come to the two-hour block are not always able to due to disability.)

  2. Heather says:

    Thank you for this. The image of you waiting outside the doors of the church for someone to let you in makes me so sad. How lonely for you, and how limited of me that that has not occurred to me before.

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