I thank God for people who are willing to tell their stories, especially when those stories could be turned against them. This danger looms especially for people whose story includes mental illness.
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Write your own blog post to share your ministry experience with others.
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.
"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
"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."
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.
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.
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.”
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?
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.
The briefcase moved with us over the years and eventually ended up in the basement of our current home. As I brought the briefcase upstairs, its usefulness was apparent. It was dirty, ripped, and rusted in its hardware. But now it was destined to go in the trash. I noticed that it still had something inside.