About 10 years ago, the Greater Palisades classis of the Reformed Church in America (RCA) offered their denomination $25,000 to start an RCA disability ministry. This substantial offer prompted the RCA General Synod Council (GSC) to investigate the possibility of working closely with CRC Disability Concerns.
This summer, synod encouraged all Christian Reformed churches to adopt a church policy on disability and to appoint at least one person in the congregation to serve as a church disability advocate. Has your church taken both of these steps?
In 1867 San Francisco city leaders declared, “Any person who is diseased, maimed, mutilated, or in any way deformed so as to be an unsightly or disgusting object, or an improper person to be allowed in or on the streets, highways, thoroughfares or public places in the City of County of San Francisco, shall not therein or thereon expose himself or herself to public view.”
The novel, Divine Towels by Beau Jason McGlynn, describes a mother and son, Claire and Ethan, who are led by God to begin a healing ministry called Divine Towels. By washing the feet of those seeking to be healed God uses Claire and Ethan to effect healing.
"We are all a part of God's story, and trusting Him through the twists and turns isn't easy. At the heart of our stories is the essence of belonging - to each other and to Him. And we need to know that we belong - even with our abnormalities and idiosyncrasies." - Sara Pot
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.
Let's not eliminate all segregated classrooms and sheltered work and congregate activities. Let's work against ableism, including the implicit ableism that in a patronistic way seeks to eliminate valid choices for activities made by some people with disabilities.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Diekema has identified for church leaders yet another gift that people with disabilities bring to their churches. They can challenge congregations for underestimating anyone who lives with disability, and they can serve as mentors to the entire congregation...
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.
A campaign of misinformation brought about the defeat of the ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) in the U.S. Senate last December. Likely, a motion to ratify it will be brought to the Senate Foreign Relations committee this June. Now is the time to begin contacting Senators to correct that misinformation so the next vote to ratify will be successful.
Healthy churches think about and work at hospitality. Like our Lord himself, they give and receive hospitality graciously. In the body of Christ, all of us are hosts and all of us are guests. All of us reflect the Lord himself, who received and gave. All of us have something to give and something to receive from each other.
"People shouldn't dismiss people like me just because I sound different. In that sense, I'd like them to think of it as little more than an accent. However, I also can't get away from the reality that it is a disability, it has caused me to struggle throughout my life, just to communicate."