Disability Ministry in the News

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The Disability Rights Movement has never gained the kind of traction with the general public or the news media as the civil rights movement. In fact, most stories about disability are either "inspirational" stories about people who have "overcome" their disability to achieve something (implying that people who simply live with their disability are not valued for who they are), or stories about someone who loses some ability, even temporarily, like the "disabled" list in sports. So I'm always thankful to read stories about Christian leaders taking steps to enhance ministry with people who have disabilities. Here are three:

This past week, the pope spoke on disability to the Italian Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired. Among other things, he said, “I also wish the best for your association." He encouraged them to “spread a culture of encounter, solidarity and hospitality towards persons with disabilities, not just asking for the proper social services but also encouraging their active participation in society.”

In the wake of the suicide of Rick and Kay Warren's son, this past week the Southern Baptist Convention approved a resolution on "Mental Health Concerns and the Heart of God" that affirms the denomination's support for people who have mental illness, as well as families that are impacted by the loss of loved ones to suicide. Warren, a Southern Baptist himself, tweeted his appreciation that the resolution was approved, "THANK YOU Southern Baptists, for today's resolution to help churches serve the millions who struggle with mental illness."

Also making a positive step in the area of ministry with people who have disabilities, the CRC synod approved a resolution this week encouraging Christian Reformed churches to adopt a policy on disability and to appoint at least one person from their congregation to serve as a disability advocate.

What is your church doing in ministry with people who have disabilities that is newsworthy?

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OK, I'll start the conversation. Our council recently approved having a Disability Awareness Team. Our desire is to help our congregation become more aware of ways to help people with disabilities feel welcome in our services and various ministries. One of the first things we are doing is sponsoring a training session in a couple of weeks to encourage us to be ready for any children with disabilities who wish to attend our VBS this summer. Also, our Friendship Class is looking forward to helping in various ways during VBS week.

We are going to start having a prayer time one hour before the morning worship service each Sunday so we can can pray for the needs of our church, our ministries and the community around us. Our Friendship Class is also being invited to participate in this. We are planning on them joining our praise team a couple of times this summer, too.

Who's next? I know we have many churches who include people with disabilities.

Steve