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Disability Ministries

The Commission on Disability Concerns advocates for and develops programs that meet the needs of people with disabilities. They foster awareness by educating individuals and congregations about the various needs of those with disabilities and promote inclusion within the church. In addition, the commission is a resource for local churches attempting to develop ministries that are attitudinally and architecturally accessible.

The following links are online resources for a variety of disability concerns and needs:

Celebrating Disability Awareness Sunday in Your Local Church

The Book of Discipline (¶265.4) states: “Disability Awareness Sunday shall be observed annually on a date to be determined by the annual conference. Baltimore-Washington Conference members voted to observe Disability Awareness Sunday on the first Sunday in February, or if that is not possible, any other Sunday that might be more convenient for church members.

Disability Awareness Sunday calls the Church to celebrate the gifts and graces of persons with disabilities and calls the Church and society to full inclusion of persons with disabilities in the community. The church is not complete unless all of us are present and included.

Because each church is different, it is recommended that every congregation start with a planning committee and target the needs of their local community. First steps could include:

  • Complete an accessibility audit — involve the trustees and other groups, including persons with disabilities. Find ways to make your church as accessible as possible. For instance, rent a ramp to the chancel, hire an interpreter, hold the service outdoors or in an accessible part of the church, borrow assisted listening devices, print some of the bulletins in a larger and/or bolder font, and remind parishioners to avoid wearing fragrances.
  • Reach out into the community to invite persons with disabilities and their families to participate in the worship service and educational offerings. Be creative in locating people through preschool programs, deaf service centers, rehabilitation centers, vocational rehabilitation offices, ADA compliance offices, etc. Place a notice in the newspaper. Offer transportation to people who no longer drive as well as people in nearby group homes or nursing homes.

During the service, typical activities will revolve around God’s love and acceptance of all of us. Children could be offered the opportunity meet people with disabilities, to use a wheelchair and crutches, and to learn sign language. Some churches take an offering for Golden Cross Sunday or for an accessibility project for their congregation or community. Most always finish with a potluck for fellowship. Encourage people to bring foods that everyone can enjoy, including healthy low-sugar, low-sodium, low-fat foods. Have members bring a copy of the recipe to share so others can copy favorite recipes and check for foods they may be allergic to.

Resources available for developing your Disability Awareness Sunday

Disability Related News

Training

Online Disability Resources

Disabilities 101

Disability-Related United Methodist Organizations

Media and Other Resources

Begin Your Own Disability Ministry