*This is the third of four articles in our Disability Concerns Canada Fall 2021. You can find the rest here: DC Canada Fall 2021 Newsletter
Every year Disability Concerns Canada hosts an annual conference. Typically this takes place in the spring in Southern Ontario, but for the second year in a row, this conference has shifted to a month-long online event due to the pandemic. As a result, people from across North America are able to attend, creating a much more accessible event.
This year, Disability Concerns Canada chose to focus the event on the newest resource that the Disability Concerns ministry released: Everybody Belongs, Serving Together: Inclusive Church Ministry for People with Disabilities. This comprehensive guide to church accessibility and inclusive ministry was designed to help churches embrace people with disabilities, not only as recipients of God’s love, but as partners in ministry. For our October series, speakers for the event chose aspects of the resource to discuss with participants. The topics included:
No Weaker Parts: Everyone is Indispensable (Led by Mark Stephensona and Cara Milne)
The 5 Stages: Changing Attitudes (Led by Dan Vander Plaats and Marg Dantuma)
Curing vs. Healing (Led by Bethany McKinney Fox)
Belonging Beyond Being There: Knowing that We’re Contributing and Loved (Led by Chantal Huinink and Jasmine Duckworth)
For this series, with a focus on inclusive ministry, we began each week with a devotion led by an individual with a disability. Leaving the concept of devotions open to interpretation, we were blessed with a liturgical dance, a beautiful song, verses, and stories shared that were a wonderful segway into the weekly discussion around the concept of everybody belonging.
Perhaps one of the most unique parts of this series, that happened spontaneously in the first week, was the decision to end the formal discussion right at the top of the hour and then leave space for the community to stay and share with one another. Often participants lingered an extra half an hour to contribute personal thoughts on the evening’s discussion and to build connections with others participating in the event. Disability Concerns ministry focuses on building community, and what a wonderful development this was!
If you did not have the opportunity to participate in the series, you can still access the series via our YouTube site!