Deacons who serve well work hard at connecting with members of the congregation, organizing ministry, and finding appropriate resources. This final installment on deacons and people with disabilities suggests ideas for ministry and provides some resources to implement those ideas.
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After finishing his Ph.D. cum laude, Herb Greenberg applied for 600 jobs, was offered 85 interviews, but when prospective employers found out he was blind, that number was reduced to three.
Lest we forget, out of 2.3 million American veterans who served in Afghanistan and Iraq, 633,000 (25% of the total) have a service-connected disability. Overall, about 3 million (14%) of the total number of living US veterans have a service-connected disability. We owe an extra debt of gratitude to the disabled vets . . .
With a severe impairment, a person is disabled by the environment and may not be able to participate because of what we build and create. The failure to proactively provide efficient, timely, reasonable accommodation is measurable disability discrimination. As James said, show me your works.
In 1985, I received a spinal cord injury. Now I can control my body only from the neck up. At the time of the injury, computers were mainly used in large offices. Few homes had them, and they were not linked together outside of an organization. Technology has greatly changed since that time, especially in what is now common, the Internet.
Thirty-three percent of families changed their place of worship because their child with a disability was not included or welcomed into the life of the congregation. Of these families who left, some of them not only left their congregation, but left their faith tradition!
On September 23 Alberta television stations featured a news item about a young lady who 'climbed' to the top of an 8000-foot mountain in Camrose, Alberta. What made Kuen Yang newsworthy is that she is a quadriplegic. Although she has enough movement in her hands to operate a joystick (to control e.g. a computer) and self-propel her wheelchair, she is totally dependent on others for personal care.
The language of creation replaces, and transcends, the language of loss, just as it does in life. The pastoral care-giver's question is not, “What have you lost? But “What’s it like?” and “What’s happening?”
We are a community where people with special needs—along with those whose needs are not so obvious—work together in leading worship and Bible studies, providing pastoral care, etc. We never “dumb down,” but instead find concrete ways to bring the words of Christ alive and apply them to our various life situations.
What do you think churches should do to provide a safer environment for individuals with disabilities?
People with disabilities are often marginalized in our communities and our churches. Join Mark and myself over the next four weeks as we explore how what disabilities are, what they might look like in our midst, and how Deacons can be a catalyst for justice for people with disabilities.
Churches can and should support men and women who sacrificed themselves for our countries. Frequently mental health issues are one component in the lives of veterans with disabilities, but pastors and church leaders don't always know how best to minister to these men and women.
When faith communities show non-judgmental love to members affected by mental illness, parishioners feel safe to acknowledge their needs and overcome their fears of rejection. A faith community can establish that reputation with persons who have a mental illness and their families in a variety of ways.
The most common symbol for accessibility features an image of someone in a wheelchair—lifeless, helpless, passive. Temporarily able-bodied people tend to look at people who have disabilities that way, seeing need without recognizing capability and giftedness. A new icon pushes that stereotype aside.
Just as psychologists have established criteria for diagnosing mental illness, we need criteria to identify when someone has slid so far down the path of moral unhealth that he would be called morally ill and in need of treatment. This approach would look for insights from various disciplines including theology.
Mom hasn’t been able to initiate conversation for several years, but only a few months ago yet, mom and I could have two sentence conversations. I would say a brief sentence, and she would usually give some appropriate response. Those appropriate responses are gone too. Except one.
An acquaintance walked up, punched me on the shoulder and jovially called out, “How’s it going, big guy?” In that moment I was reminded again that I am exceptional. I am six feet eight inches tall and weigh 325 pounds, so I am mostly known for my exceptional size.