Roadmap for Regional Disability Advocates: From the First Step to Success!
December 21, 2020
Updated June 28, 2021
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Step 1: An Overview of the Role: What To Know as You Consider Joining Our Ministry
(We encourage you to consider this role to be a two-year contract, renewable many times!)
Disability Advocate Description
Enlist a church advocate in each congregation to champion the full inclusion of people with disabilities in church life and to be an indispensable link in the Disability Concerns network
Contact all church advocates at least once annually. We encourage ongoing contact with church advocates to build ongoing relationships within your team. You play an instrumental role in providing encouragement, accountability, resources, and/or training opportunities, and to ensure that Breaking Barriers and other resources are available to congregations
Establish and implement annual goals to improve the region’s welcome and engagement of people with disabilities
Participate in recommended training when possible
Promote the ministry through speaking, writing, and/or personal contacts
Explore making annual reports to the classis, either in writing or in person
Network with other regional advocates in regional groups when possible
Curious to hear what other regional advocates have to say about the role? Listen to past and present regional advocates share their stories in the video series "Disability Advocates: Why We Serve."
Step 2: Onboarding Process: What You Can Expect from Us as You Step into This Role
Disability Concerns staff will set up a meeting with you to discuss the role with you, answer any questions you may have, and run through the full scope of the role so you have a clear understanding of the expectations and rewards of taking on this role. Following this meeting we ask that you confirm your decision to move forward in this role with us before we move to the next step.
Disability Concerns staff will reach out to your classis leaders to put your name forward for the role. This is a classis appointed role that must be voted on at the next classis meeting. We would encourage you to connect with the classis stated clerk prior to this meeting and ask for a place on the schedule to introduce yourself to all in attendance. Becoming the face of Disability Concerns within your classis is very important. Offer a short statement about your passion for this role (we’ll help you write it), and provide ways for churches to get in touch with you..
A letter will be sent out from the Disability Concerns ministry to all church councils noting that you have stepped into this role and encouraging them to reach out to you with questions.
Step 3: Get Connected to the Ministry!
Disability Concerns offers a number of resources for you. Being a part of this ministry means being a part of a team. You are not in this alone. You can follow us through our online activity, as well as through person-to-person connections. We encourage you to connect with our resources and the larger community to feel like you are part of a very important movement towards a fully inclusive church community!
Facebook (like and follow our page!)
The Network (our denominational blog — make sure to subscribe to the Disability Concerns topic to get all the updates)
The Breaking Barriers quarterly newsletter
This newsletter is a theme-based newsletter that is written by you! Articles in this newsletter are written by people in our disability community.
The Disability Concerns monthly e-newsletter
This e-newsletter is a great way to stay up-to-date on what is happening in our community - events, book clubs, valuable articles, etc.
Our own private Disability Concerns Facebook group, which is designed for:
Receiving more personal updates on members (births, deaths, etc) in our group that we would not share with the larger FB community
Learning about events we are hosting
Reaching out for resources from the collective group
Reaching out to other church advocates for advice
Step 4: Receiving Support in Your Role
We have a large team of regional advocates across North America. We organize a number of events to be sure you feel supported in your role.
We meet quarterly as regional caucuses. This meeting offers an opportunity to hear from each regional advocate, finding out about how their classis is managing and what supports they could benefit from. This is also a time for staff to share updates, events, and resources available to you
We also meet once a year for an annual leadership training event, usually in late summer or early fall. This event is a chance to network with other regional advocates across North America and increase your awareness and learning within the field of disability. Our 2020 leadership training event was delivered completely online in response to the global pandemic. As a result, we have a full recording of this two-day event: Disability Concerns Leadership Training 2020 Recap
Here is the chart of all CRCNA regional advocates. Please make sure your contact info is up to date at all times on this list. Feel free to reach out to our staff team or other regional advocates on this list at any time for support.
Step 5: Defining Your Goals: We Ask That You Devote Three to Six Hours a Month for This Role
This role has two ongoing goals that we ask you to bare in mind throughout the year:
Recruiting and supporting church advocates
Being available for our DC community of advocates is vital. In order to grow our ministry mandate of "Everybody belongs, everybody serves," we need to be sure individual advocates never feel isolated, nor do people within our churches that are living with a disability. Reaching out to these people is our primary goal. We created three brief videos to guide you in how to do this well (six to eight minutes each).
Connecting with your larger DC community
Research, networking, promotion, etc. with other advocates and DC ministry staff is the ongoing work of the regional advocate. As a staff team, we will continue to work hard to bring you current information from the disability community and offer support and resources as you continue this important work.
Reporting to Classis
We would encourage you to be sure to report to classis at least once a year, if not more! Here are some suggestions for reports you can present: Disability Advocate Report to Classis
Connecting with Your Team
We ask that all regional advocates connect with their church advocates for a minimum of one time per year as a large group. Coming together as a group allows one another to feel fully supported within your community and work through challenges as a group so everyone learns together. Disability Concerns staff welcomes the opportunity to support these meetings in any way possible—providing technology for online meetings, joining meetings as needed, etc.
Step 6: Jumping In!
Ideas for Connecting and Advocating with People with Disabilities: this video includes Hank Kuntz—former Regional Advocate for Classis Toronto—and Laura Koning—Regional Advocate for Grandville, Michigan—sharing how to connect to churches and people within your classis.
Ideas for Contacting Churches: this three-part video series led by Mark Stephenson and Dori Dykstra walks you through how to connect with churches as you look to build a Disability Concerns regional team!
Contact the Disability Concerns staff to get a list of churches in your region with a disability advocate. Please reconnect with our offices at any time to update information in our system to keep the list of your church advocates accurate.
Disability Concerns ministry is able to provide ongoing support to our denomination because of our volunteers—thank you!
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