The Reformed Church in America encourages churches to celebrate Disability Sunday on October 10 and the Christian Reformed Church on October 17.
We encourage all churches to recognize this Sunday as a time to demonstrate as a community that all members of their congregation are valued and that every person was created in God's image and has unique gifts that they can offer the church.
Our Theme for 2021
This year, our theme is: Who's missing in my church?
The goal of Disability Concerns is to foster churches where "everybody belongs and everybody serves." Said another way, we long to see within the church the full participation of all people with disabilities, and we long for the church to fully participate in the lives of people with disabilities. This grand vision applies to all generations.
Throughout North American culture, people 30 years old and under have grown up expecting that public spaces and institutions will be accessible in every way. Laws enacted in the United States and Canada since the 1990s (and earlier) have required accessible environments for facilities, programs, schools, and more. Younger generations have known accessibility to be a birthright. They expect that people on the margins will be fully welcomed, even in environments that were not built or designed for full accessibility.
However, in many instances, accessible design has not been required for churches. Creating spaces of welcome for a minority of people who live with disabilities often becomes a low priority. But younger generations accustomed to access notice this disparity. When accessibility becomes optional for churches, the gap can become a chasm for young people who are accustomed to a world where full inclusion and belonging are the norm. Have you asked yourself, "Who's missing in my church?"
Join the conversation here: bit.ly/whosmissinginmychurch
Preparing for Disability Awareness Sunday with your Church
- Schedule an youth/young adult forum on living with a disability (or a similar topic).
- Complete a church accessibility audit that involves church leaders and people with disabilities. Find ways to make your church as accessible as possible.
- follow our hashtag #whosmissinginmychurch to expand your ideas on accessibility
- Join us for our Leadership Training Event August 11&12 (11 am to 2 pm Eastern, hosted on Zoom) that will focus on extending this conversation and inspire action in your church. Encourage your church disability advocate to participate in this event, or if your church does not have one yet, perhaps there is someone passionate about this topic in your congregation! Invite them to join us! This is a free online event this year!
Celebrating Disability Awareness Sunday with your Church
Ideas to celebrate disability week include these:
- Plan a worship service, alongside persons with disabilities, themed around God’s love and acceptance of, and purposes for, all people. Encourage the worship leader to consider gathering a few people from your church community who have a disability or parent a child with a disability to talk about what they experience, helpful or hurtful scriptures, life experiences, etc.
- In worship planning, invite people with disabilities to share their gifts in appropriate ways (as liturgists, ushers, communion servers, musicians, preachers, etc.), but do so in a way that avoids putting people with disabilities “on display.” Encourage your pastors and worship leaders to utilize these gifted worship leaders throughout the year.
- Use the attached bulletin insert and slides for worship.
- Distribute one or both of our Disability Emphasis Week devotionals to the congregation.