03.03.21 | Advocacy and Action, Disability Ministries
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
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 to 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
Resources available for developing your Disability Awareness Sunday
- Disability Awareness Sunday liturgy from the BWC Commission on Disability Concerns (updated 2021)
- Resources on Disability Awareness Sunday from the United Methodist Disability Ministries Committee
- UMCOR’s Worship resource for Disability Awareness Sunday (includes an entire outline for worship)
- That All May Worship: An Interfaith Welcome to People with Disabilities
- BWC Disability Awareness Sunday Church Kit
- Hymns for Disability Awareness Sunday
- Bulletin Inserts & Articles
- Deaf Awareness-related Resources by the Deaf & Hard of Hearing Ministries Committee