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“Two thirds of Americans with disabilities who want to work are unemployed or underemployed,” says a statement on employment from the American Association of Persons with Disabilities (AAPD). What a waste! So many people, so many gifts and talents going unused or underused. It doesn’t have to be that way.

For many years the CRC’s employee manuals have pledged equal opportunity for employment of people with disabilities in denominational positions. For example, the US handbook says, “The CRCNA will not discriminate against any qualified employee or applicant in regard to any terms or conditions of employment because of an individual’s disability or perceived disability, so long as the employee can perform the essential duties of the job.”

Therefore, when Ginny Thornburgh, program director of the AAPD Interfaith Initiative, asked that the CRC take a stand for employment of people with disabilities, I was eager to communicate the CRC’s commitment with other religious organizations.

The CRC cosigned the AAPD’s “Statement of Solidarity by the Religious Community Around Employment of People with Disabilities” which was released earlier this month. The AAPD Interfaith Initiative chose October because the US Congress designated this month as National Disability Employment Awareness Month.

The AAPD encourages congregations, seminaries, denominations, faith groups and religious organizations to sign on the Statement of Solidarity through September, 2011.

Among other things, the Statement of Solidarity urges religious organizations, denominations and faith groups

  • to draw attention to the abilities of people with disabilities and their right to be recruited, hired, promoted and retained at all levels of work;
  • to hire qualified people with disabilities as ordained leaders, religious educators, musical directors, communicators, administrators, support staff, technical support and maintenance workers;
  • to offer support to members and visitors with disabilities who are out of work, including moral support, specific advice and training, supervised volunteer opportunities and introductions to those who make hiring decisions.

If you are an employer or supervisor in a business, religious organization, educational institution, or the government, please consider people with disabilities for employment and for volunteer positions. It will diversify your workforce, bring people with fresh ideas to planning and work processes, and honor God.

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