One time, I gave my elevator speech of what Disability Concerns is about to a fellow Christian Reformed pastor. He responded, “Well, if any of those people come to my church, I’ll send them to you.”
As congregational members who do not have intellectual disabilities engage week in and week out with those who do, everyone learns and grows. People have to learn how to talk with others who are much different from them. That requires everyone to take risks, to reach out to one another, to have awkward conversations that will, over time, become less awkward.
This survey focused on United Methodist clergy, but I would guess that it's conclusions are broadly applicable to clergy from many denominations. "Answering God's call shouldn't be bad for your health. But for about half of all ordained United Methodist clergy, it is."
The means by which violence is perpetrated against people with disabilities varies widely, but the statistics clearly indicate that people with disabilities are much more likely to have emotional and physical violence perpetrated against them than the general population.
I celebrate the accomplishments of Derrick Coleman and Nick Vujicic and the others, but I want to get to know people on their own terms. I don’t want to paint anyone with stereotypes that have been formed in my mind by media. But how do I do that?
I have a dream that the body of Christ will show society how welcome and hospitality are done right. I have a dream that the body of Christ will be the first place people living with disabilities will go to find acceptance, warmth, and opportunities to use their gifts in meaningful ways.
Following these resolutions won't cost your church a penny. More importantly, becoming a welcoming congregation to people who have disabilities will help your church think through what Christian hospitality and love are really about. You’ll be a better and more loving community for the effort, and 2014 will bring new blessings that you couldn’t possibly imagine.
Guest blogger, Marlene Natelborg, reminds readers that our choices about candles, cleaning products, perfume and aftershave can create problems for some people and even keep them away from worship. Our daily choices can hurt or help.
Many people loathe December and January. Holiday parties can bring pain along with joy. People renew old tensions, unbury hatchets, and pronounce judgments on others. Perhaps even worse, some people sit home alone, uninvited to gatherings with loneliness blowing cold like a winter draft.
Mostly, we don't want to speak and act with prejudice, but too often hear ourselves saying, "Oops, I did it again." And our prejudices bleed into every aspect of human difference: ethnicity, ability, sexual orientation, gender, social class, to name a few examples.
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities will not right all the wrongs committed against people with various disabling conditions, but it puts a line in the sand that squares with the message of Jesus.
In the 1960s and early ’70s, U.S. military personnel were often treated shamefully upon returning to civilian life. I hope that your church will consider ministry with veterans as a significant way to serve men, women, and families who gave so much for their country.
It must be terribly frightening to see one’s abilities slowly fade. I do not yet live with losses like this, so I do not want to speak lightly of them. But many, many other people do live joyfully with disabilities of various kinds, including loss of eyesight and Parkinson’s.
Our summer issue of Breaking Barriers featured articles on recreation and disability. Here's one, by Wendy Wassink, about the miracles God wrought to make it possible for her son Shawn to play hockey on a team. Other articles highlight therapeutic riding, summer camp, and more.