The Eastern PA Conference’s Disability Ministries Committee urges churches to celebrate Disability Awareness Sunday Jan. 14 or on a more convenient date. The UMC’s Book of Discipline calls for every conference and church to celebrate this special occasion annually to increase response to the need for including more disabled persons in the life of our churches.
The committee invites churches that observe Disability Awareness Sunday to receive a special offering for UMCOR’s “Disability Ministries” Advance Special (# 3021054). You can find information and resources online at umdisabilityministries.org/dasunday. Also visit the committee’s webpage for more information, and be sure to let them know what your church does to celebrate Disability Awareness Sunday: Tell Us About Your Church’s Disability Ministry or Disability Awareness Sunday!
“Disability crosses all lines of race, ethnicity, gender, class, etc.,” wrote Bishop Peggy Johnson in “Privilege” her 2017 Bishop’s Blog essay. “Sadly, however, many of our churches are ill-prepared to receive people with disabilities. Not only are they unable to receive them physically, with accessible buildings and services; but often church members have inaccessible “hearts” that fail to welcome disabled visitors. It is even harder to find churches that engage in the greatest form of accessibility of all: empowerment.”
There are many ways churches can improve accessibility. A good start might be to gradually develop a deaf-friendly worship service and inclusion for Deaf, hard of hearing, late-deafened and Deafblind people who may join your congregation for worship. The Rev. Leo Yates Jr., a consultant on Global Ministries’ United Methodist Committee on Deaf and Hard of Hearing Ministries offers suggestions. Leo chairs the Baltimore Washington Conference’s Commission on Disability Concerns and is associate pastor of Magothy UMC of the Deaf in Pasadena, Md.
Some adapted recommendations:
May all our communities of faith be places where the Good News is accessible to people of all abilities. And may believers with and without disabilities be willing and able to share Christ’s love and hospitality.
Look for a website feature story this week about Lighthouse Fellowship in Glenside, Pa., one congregation that has welcomed and embraced its Deaf neighbors as part of its church family.
Consider one of the following:
1. A Brief Guide to Sign Language Interpreting (& how to acquire them)