“And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’” Matthew 25:40
Disability Awareness Month
Did you know?
March is Disability Awareness Month and April is Autism Awareness Month. It is the perfect time to emphasize that all people are wonderfully made by our Creator. God wants all to grow daily in their faith and in love and service to Him. Many with disabilities and their families do not feel welcome in the church; many have not even been invited! What can we, the hands and feet in the Body of Christ, do to facilitate a welcoming, inclusive environment for our brothers and sisters with disabilities?
Eye contact when greeting those with disabilities facilitates inclusion. Also, congregation members should:
- Greet warmly; engage in the same conversations you would have with other visitors or new members
- Make introductions
- Offer a tour of the church or give directions to the bathroom and water fountain
- offer a place to sit – better yet, ask if you can sit with them
- offer bulletins and hymnals – large print should be considered by congregations, as well as braille books and a large screen
- offer help with doors or with navigating ramps
Other things to consider:
Assisted listening device
Could your congregation purchase special headphones for those with hearing impairments? Could your bulletin contain a statement on where the headphones are located so that newcomers can easily find them?
Sign language interpreter
Does your congregation have a plan for incorporating a sign language interpreter during the worship service for those who may need this? If not, could you ask volunteers in your congregation to consider attending classes in American Sign Language and becoming fluent to fill this need?
Could your congregation consider having a low sensory area available during worship? Many with disabilities are adversely affected by strong lights, loud music and a lot of stimuli. Does your church have an area for worship where the lights can be dimmer, the music is quieter and the stimuli are less?
Many parents who have children with disabilities do not get a break and are exhausted. Could your church provide someone who could spend one on one time with a child with disabilities perhaps assisting them in Sunday School or other church activities. Just that one hour of respite time during Sunday School makes all the difference for a weary parent and even gives them the opportunity to, for example, attend Bible class.
Adapting to become a congregation that includes all abilities may seem overwhelming at first glance, but you don’t need to do this alone. We are here to help you. The Rocky Mountain District Disability Ministry Task Force has resources and people who can support you and your congregation. Confirmation materials, Bible study materials, and training are available.
Collect/Prayer for months of March and April
O Almighty God, as you welcome all people to the feast of your kingdom, so give our congregations the bold desire to seek out people of all abilities, those who are marginalized, those with disabilities, and those who are overlooked. Help us to come along side families caring for those with disabilities, to provide support, encouragement, and compassion. We thank you for those whose calling is Direct Support Professional, who provide daily care and support for people with disabilities. Sustain them with patience, hope, and love to fulfill their vocation. As Jesus told the story of the owner of a house who was having a banquet and invited the poor, the crippled, blind and lame—so teach us to be your hands and feet in the world, that your house may be full; through your Son Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God now and forever. Amen.
We are aware of the following congregations that are providing Disability Ministry, ranging from weekly Sunday School and confirmation classes to monthly social events and the hosting of a Tim Tebow Foundation’s Night to Shine:
Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran, Centennial, CO
Our Father, Centennial, CO
Zion, Holyoke, CO
University Hills, Denver, CO
Holy Cross, Colorado Springs, CO
St Paul, Durango, CO
Redeemer, Ft.Collins, CO
If your church is providing ministry for one or more people with disabilities, we would like to know so that we can add you to this list and encourage others! Please contact one of our committee members below and let us know what you are doing.
Our Founding, Work and Committee
Our District’s Task Force on Disability Ministry was established for ministry to and with people with disabilities. The 50th Regular Convention of our District in summer of 2015 reaffirmed our District’s need for a Task Force.
Our task force will work with churches and schools in need of:
- Resources to address needs of those with disabilities,
- Suggestions on how to involve them in the life & ministry of the church, and
- Catechetical helps & resources for pastors and other church workers.
The mission of our District’s Task Force on Disability Ministry is: To equip the Church to practice inclusion of people with disabilities.
Our Task Force Members:
Chairman – Becky Gambardella: Becky@markgam.com
Secretary – Rev. Joel: Dieterichsfirstname.lastname@example.org
Rev. Dave Reber Jr.: email@example.com
Ann Stivers: Stiversfirstname.lastname@example.org
Advisory – Sue Hart: Susan.Hart@mailblc.org
The DMTF is thankful for the pioneering efforts of other Disability task forces throughout our Synod. We are most grateful for the generous assistance of Sue Hart, DCE Ministry Consultant for Bethesda Lutheran Communities. Bethesda is a Recognized Service Organization of the Missouri Synod and can be found online at: bethesdalutherancommunities.org.
We are also proud of our Synod’s efforts at awareness and sensitivity to people with disabilities: http://www.lcms.org/socialissues/disability