During the long stretch of isolation and distancing imposed during the coronavirus pandemic, people with disabilities found that some barriers to participation actually were removed. The articles in this issue tell a few of those stories of unexpected access.
Terry A. DeYoung, Coordinator for Disability Concerns, RCA
While the pandemic has caused challenges such as travel plans being canceled and the inability to connect with friends and family in the usual way, for Terry DeYoung, Coordinator of Disability Concerns for the RCA, there have also been some gains. Online connections remove many traditional financial and accessibility restrictions for the communities he serves. With a little creativity and ingenuity, new dreams can be imagined and realized in this new era of online connection.
by Michelle McIlroy, Delmar Reformed Church, Albany NY
Shifting to online platforms to stay connected throughout the pandemic, churches need to explore the benefits of this form of connection. Prior to the pandemic, for many churches, online church was not a priority. However, many people confront challenges in traditional forms of in-person gatherings for church. For individuals such as Michelle, online options have opened up new ways of connecting to her church community. When COVID is a memory and churches no longer have gathering restrictions, will all our new ways of connecting be incorporated to create a new, stronger sense of community for the church?
by Rev. Lesli van Milligen, Willowdale CRC, Toronto ON
As restrictions continue, our capacity to navigate online worship is expanding. What started out as a courageous leap to an online platform for many has offered significant rewards for congregations. Willowdale CRC in Toronto is a wonderful example of the potential for growth as a church community through online connections. Here, generations are connecting in new and beautiful ways. Older adults who gave up their previous church community are now able to reconnect. Friends and family that are not members of a church body can join easily thanks to the online platform. In so many areas, Willowdale is recognizing growth as they learn to adapt to an online version of church.
by Rev. David Zomer, Bethany Reformed Church, Kalamazoo MI
The pandemic has forced many people to slow down, limited by so many restrictions to our regular pace of life. For Pastor Dave, of Bethany Reformed Church, this shift in pace offered the space to establish a connection with a member of his congregation that in other circumstances would not have happened. Finding time for building relationships has been one of the unique blessings that many are finding has grown out of this unique time.
by Lori West, Heritage Fellowship CRC, Brampton ON
Feeling stuck is something we can all relate to in one form or another. Given the restrictions we are all living through today, “stuck” is an excellent word to describe our current situation. Yet God is very present at all times. Lori, who lives with disabilities, shares how she has been able to connect to so many people through technology in the midst of a pandemic, an excellent way to move from stuck to unstuck!
Spring 2021—Race and disability.
Among others, Daniel Prude and Walter Wallace Jr. might still be alive if they had not been black or disabled. If you are Black, Indigenous, or a person of color and live with a disability, please tell us your story (400 words) by January 29, 2021.
Summer 2021—The arts and disability.
If you live with a disability, please send us your poems, short stories, photographs, or photos of visual works of
art you created. Items do not need to be about your disability. Our typical word limit for written pieces is 400 words. Send your submission by April 2, 2021.
Awards and Past Issues
You can find this issue in a variety of alternative formats (print-friendly layout, large print, audio) attached below.
In addition, find back issues of Breaking Barriers and editions in Español and in 한국어, plus a link for electronic subscriptions, at either the CRC website (www.crcna.org/disability) or RCA website (www.rca.org/disability).
This newsletter and the Disability Concerns blog (network.crcna.org/disability), co-published by CRC and RCA Disability Concerns ministries, received two Best in Class awards of merit from the Associated Church Press this year: for Breaking Barriers (newsletter category) and for Disability Concerns on The Network (blog category).