Celebrate Disability Week

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The CRC Synod encouraged churches to celebrate Disability Week. Find resources specifically for this year on this page. Why would one want to “celebrate” Disability Week? Here are several good reasons:

Many people – God loves all of his image-bearers, and the parable of the banquet (Luke 14) suggests that the table at the Great Feast will have people missing unless people with disabilities also take their seats there. People with disabilities comprise a large portion of the population in North America. Twenty percent of Americans and 15 percent of Canadians have disabilities. As the large number of us baby boomers roll into our senior years, that percentage will likely increase. And when one counts the families who have a child, spouse, or parent with a disability, then more than one in four households are directly impacted by disability. So we celebrate Disability Week because it involves many people.

Anti-ableism – Ableism is to disability what racism is to race/ethnicity. People with disabilities must deal with bias against them on many levels. Here are a few examples. The unemployment rate of people with disabilities is about 50 percent. After the 2008 recession began, the roles of people receiving disability payments from the U.S. government swelled. I would assume that is because many employers dismissed their employees with disabilities first. Parents who have disabilities are most likely to have their children removed from the home. The U.S. National Council on Disability finds that parents with disabilities are “the only distinct community of Americans who must struggle to retain custody of their children.” Sadly, bias continues in church as well. One third of parents of children with disabilities left their congregation because their child was not included or welcomed (from an unpublished study by Dr. Erik Carter). We celebrate Disability Week to take a stand against negative bias toward people with disabilities.

Progress – As we depicted in an infographic recently, many Christian Reformed churches have expanded their accessibility and ministry with people with disabilities over the years. Give thanks to God for the ways he has been working through all of us!

2012 is our birthday – Disability Concerns celebrates 30 years of ministering with Christian Reformed Churches this year. Sorry for tooting our horn, but Disability Concerns has not only ministered well to CRC’s throughout the years, but also has served as an inspiration to people from other denominations. In a chapter in Disability Advocacy among Religious Organizations, author Erik Pridmore writes, “While the CRC is far from being perfect, its inclusion of disabled individuals can be viewed as a model for religious organizations to following its efforts to answer God’s call and seek God’s justices in this world.” (p. 95) We celebrate Disability Week to celebrate what God has done through the ministry of Disability Concerns over the past 30 years.

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Our church celebrated Disability Awareness Sunday yesterday. Our Friendship Class joined the praise team in leading the congregation in worship. Members of the class also participated by greeting and ushering, reading Scripture and bringing God's greeting. Our pastor used Luke 14:1-14 as his text. All who worshipped were blessed, I'm sure. What other churches participated? Can you share your experiences, too?

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Steve, great question. Thanks for asking. I posted it in the DC Forum to give it more visibility.