UCCDM Spring & Summer Update 2016

Grace and peace to those who may be interested in the work of the UCC Disability Ministries Board–Friends, UCC Members, UCC Clergy, UCC persons with disability and our ecumenical partners.

This is to provide you with an update of the work of the UCC Disabilities Ministry (UCCDM) Board of Directors during our Spring and Summer quarters of 2016.

We are pleased to announce one new member to the board and a new ex-officio member. Early this summer UCCDM extended an invitation to Rev. Gunnar Cerda, from the Ohio Conference, as a board member.  As much as we are excited to welcome our new board member we also said goodbye to four board members. Rev. Susan Burns, Minnesota Conference and Vice Chair, and Rev. Nancy Erickson, Nebraska Conference, have submitted their resignations from the board.  Rev. Dr. Sarah Griffith Lund, Ex-Offico Mental Health Network, also stepped down.

We regret to inform that Minister Brenda Waleff, Minister of Communications for Penn Central Conference and cherished board member of UCCDM (class 2017), recently passed due to medical complications. Brenda Waleff contributed greatly to UCCDM including fundraising which lead to reaching our goal for the Virginia Kryer Scholarship of raising $100,000 in 2015.

Exciting News Regarding A2A Guidance

We are happy to announce an updated version of our A2A guidebook for congregations seeking to become A2A. The new guidebook will accompany the A2A Checklist for churches and the Church Building and Program Accessibility Audit tool, now available on the uccdm.org. Board members have been hard at work over the past year updating information to provide the most up-to-date information for congregations, associations, and conferences who are considering becoming Accessible to All.

UCCDM Outreach

The UCCDM was present at a number of UCC Conference Annual Gatherings this summer. Workshops were given at the Rocky Mountain Conference and South Central Conference. Tables were hosted at the Penn Central Conference, Southern California Nevada Conference, and Vermont Conferences. A2A information was also made available at Annual Meetings of the Nebraska Conference and Southwest Conference.

If you would like to have the UCCDM present in your Conference, please ask your Conference staff to invite the UCCDM. If you would like to host a table at your Conference event please contact the Board two to three months in advance so materials and training can be provided to you.

UCCDM Believes….

Ms. Danielle Rochford represented UCCDM at Believe National Youth Event from July 26th to July 29th. During NYE we met amazing youth and church leaders from all over the nation joining together at Disney World to talk about what it really means to believe.  During TIE Hall times Danielle met many who became excited upon learning that there is a ministry that advocates for their needs, youth who wanted to know how to include those with disabilities, and heartfelt conversations focusing on parents and youth personal stories.

2016 Annual Meeting Chicago, IL

UCCDM Board Directors are preparing to meet for our Annual Meeting in Chicago, IL September 29th-30th where we will be discussing future works of UCCDM for the 2016-2017 year.

In Grace,
Ms. Danielle Rochford
UCCDM Secretary

UCCDM Fall & Winter Update 2016

UCCDM Update Fall & Winter Update 2016
Grace and peace to those who may be interested in the work of the UCC Disability Ministries Board–Friends, UCC Members, UCC Clergy, UCC persons with disability and our ecumenical partners.

This is to provide you with an update of the work of the UCC Disability Ministry (UCCDM) Board of Directors since our last update published for June 2015.

In September 2015 we welcomed four new Board Members and one new ex-offico Board Member to UCCDM Board of Directors they are Mr. Paul Fogle from Penn Central Conference; Dr. Nadyne Guzman the Rocky Mountain Conference; Ms. Terry Martinez from South Central Conference; Mr. David Ridings from the Nebraska Conference; and Rev. Dr. Sarah Griffith Lund from Indiana/Kentucky Conference. Their bios can be viewed on our board of directors’ page. During the summer of 2015 we also elected new officers of the UCCDM as follows: Rev. Kelli Parrish Lucas, Chair; Rev. Susan Burns, Vice Chair; Mr. Paul Fogle, Treasurer; and Ms. Danielle Rochford, Secretary.

Excited as we are about our new board members we also said goodbye to three board members, all who served as officers, and an ex-officio member. We thank Rev. Lynda Bigler former Chair, Rev. Jeanne Tyler former Vice Chair, Rev. Craig Modahl former Treasurer, and Rev. Alan Johnson Ex-Officio for their time and service on UCCDM.

2015 Annual Meeting Hartford, CT
At our annual meeting in Hartford, CT, in September 2015 UCCDM Board of Directors recognized that 2016 will be a transitional year towards future works of UCCDM. As part of our transitional year UCCDM has developed a vision which will guide is during the 2016

Our vision is to develop and implement a campaign to create awareness of UCCDM and strengthen relationships and increase the value of an accessible to all community. Accessible to all is recognized and honored through the life our church.

In 2016 The UCCDM Board will be busy spreading the word about accessibility and inclusion with the goal of increasing the number of A2A churches in the denomination. The UCCDM Board is clarifying the A2A process–a new church program audit for accessibility and A2A checklist were approved at our January 2016 meeting. We have agreed to partner with the UCC Mental Health Network to maintain a constant contact account to send announcements out. We continue to seek ways to improve the website and we have a Board member devoted to this task. We also have Board members committed to doing outreach to and partnering with churches who wish to become A2A. We also have members of the board who are developing a budget and creating fundraising goals to further the goal of inclusion of people with disabilities in the life of the church. The UCCDM also continues to maintain ecumenical partnerships related to disability on behalf of the UCC.

Since our meeting in Hartford we have recognized two new A2A congregations:

#3 Congregational Church of North Barnstead, United Church of Christ, Center Barnstead, New Hampshire
#4 UCC Parker Hilltop, Parker, Colorado

Looking to join in the work of disabilities ministries? Much of the work of disabilities ministries is done at local church level, you can get involved by sharing the UCCDM mission with your church and start working towards becoming the fifth A2A church! In the coming months another need will be fundraising. Our funding structure has changed, since we reached our fundraising goal for the Kreyer Scholarship we will now be turning our attention to the fundraising to support the on-going work of the UCCDM.

In Grace,
Ms. Danielle Rochford
UCCDM Secretary

Widening the Welcome Conference Recordings

Widening The Welcome


Listen to and view the events of Widening the Welcome: Inclusion for All, September 24-26, 2015, Hartford, CT, hosted by the United Church of Christ Mental Health Network and Disabilities Ministries. We’ve posted videos and audios from the 5th national United Church of Christ Widening the Welcome: Inclusion for All Conference 2015.

The opening worship and the keynote speakers are posted as video files; while the workshops are posted as audio files.

These are posted on the Widening the Welcome 2015 playlist within the WtW channel on YouTube.

UCCDM Reaches $100,000 Milestone, Press Release

United Church of Christ Disabilities Ministries 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE (September 7, 2015)
UCCDM Contact:
Secretary@uccdm.org

UCCDM REACHES $100,000 MILESTONE

The United Church of Christ Disability Ministries Board (UCCDM) is excited to announce that they have reached the first fundraising goal of $100,000 to fund The Virginia Kreyer Endowed Scholarship Fund for persons with disabilities called to authorized ministry in the United Church of Christ. Student applicants with disabilities and/or mental health concerns seeking ordination, licensed, or commissioned ministry will be awarded scholarship assistance beginning in 2016. Application information will become available later in the fall.

This scholarship honors the life, struggles, and work of the Rev. Virginia Kreyer. Born with Cerebral Palsy, Virginia experienced a call from God to ministry and answered that call. A graduate of Union Theological Seminary and ordained by the American Baptist Church, she struggled with not receiving a call from a local parish. In 1967, she joined Garden City UCC in New York and began organizing a committee concerned with issues around disability and the church. She brought a resolution to the New York Conference and then took it to the General Synod. Virginia was the first consultant to the committee which became the UCCDM. We are so grateful for the gifts of this “feisty” woman and the mission and ministry she nurtured, supported, and empowered.

The Second Hundred campaign has begun and there are various ways to donate. First, donations can be sent directly to Ms Pat Lyden, Associate Director, Grant and Scholarship Administration, United Church of Christ, 700 Prospect Avenue East, Cleveland, OH 44115. Second, October 11, 2015 is Accessibility Sunday, celebrated throughout the United Church of Christ. Churches are encouraged to take a special offering for the Kreyer Fund that day and send it to the above address. Finally, donate through either the UCC.org or uccdm.org. Although donors “land” on a page that appears to be exclusively for the UCC Annual Fund, page 2 of the donor form allows donors to designate the special offering or scholarship fund the donation is for. No matter how a donor chooses to give, please be sure to indicate the Kreyer Scholarship Fund on checks, cover letters, or on the online form.

 

Top 10 Ways Churches Can Include People With Disabilities

At General Synod 30 in Cleveland, Ohio, June 26th – June 30th UCCDM participated in the Friday night worship service.  Our participation included our Chair Rev. Lynda Bigler and Vice Chair Rev. Jeanne Tyler presenting the Top 10 Ways Churches Can Include People With Disabilities.  Received with overwhelming response by attendees we are republishing them.  You can find out more about the Chair Rev. Lynda Bigler and Vice Chair Rev. Jeanne Tyler on our board member page.  

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  1. Provide rides for people who can’t get there on their own.
  2. Add a T-coil loop system for those who don’t hear well.
  3. Provide 22 pt font large print bulletins.
  4. Provide wheelchair cutouts with GOOD views of the chancel.
  5. Do not judge noisy or squirmy adults or children.  Leave them be!
  6. Have accessible bathrooms people can get to without having to go OUTSIDE to get there.
  7. Invite people with disabilities to sing in the choir, ring bells, and read scripture in worship.
  8. Invite people with disabilities to take leadership roles.
  9. Learn how to include people with intellectual disabilities.
  10. Be WISE. Welcoming. Inclusive. Supportive. Engaging.

Can You See Me?

Can You See Me? is an article that was originally posted on the Southern California Nevada Conference UCC Webpage.  The author, Rachel Chapman, is a present board member of the United Church of Christ’s Disabilities Ministries.  Rachel Chapman’s biography can be viewed on our Board of Director’s page.  

Upon entering the sanctuary I head toward the narrow space between the steps to the dais and the wooden divider in front of the first pew. It’s a tight fit but I do it. As the portable microphone is brought down and put in place for my message, someone says they expected me to take the ramp up to the dais so I “could be seen…”

I didn’t because I had a plan. My message for the evening’s service was to raise awareness of being Accessible to All.  It began:

  “Most of you know I can stand and even walk, although I admit it’s not always very graceful. I am opting to give the message from my scooter, not because I’m tired or because it’s convenient.  I am making a point that when I’m on my scooter, some people do not see me.  Notice I did not say they can’tsee me.  I’ve come to realize that when I am on my scooter, some people do not see me, consciously or subconsciously. People choose to look past me, partly because they do not look down and/or they look at me then look away.   Seeing people who are different from us sometimes takes us out of our comfort zone, but seeing people who are differently abled, physically or mentally, tends to really make us uncomfortable. Why do you think that is? It’s an attitude.
    “Martin Luther King, Jr. said the 11:00 hour on Sunday morning is the most segregated hour in America.  I believe that, but I also believe it is the most alienating hour. Whether brown, black, yellow or white; whether church, temple, synagogue or sports stadium, people who are differently abled are seldom made to feel welcome.  Studies show the percentage of people who describe themselves as having a disability and who attend church at least once per month is significantly lower than the general population. Now as the likelihood of attending church increases as one ages, just as the likelihood of developing a disability increases, you would expect that the number of congregants with disabilities would be greater than the general population, not smaller.
    “A few years ago the Harris Interactive survey determined  that people with disabilities (of any severity) are not just significantly less likely to attend worship services but are 35% more likely tonever to attend a worship service because they are less likely to feel welcome or comfortable in houses of worship.  I know that some of you are thinking ‘we’re welcoming…we have a ramp and accessible parking spaces’ and that’s great BUT there is so much more. It’s about attitude!”

One of the UCC tag lines is “Jesus didn’t reject people, and neither do we.”  It was developed for the LGBT community but I believe it’s fitting for everyone. In Mark 5, we learn that Jesus did not reject the woman with the issue of the blood.  And in Luke 5 when the man with leprosy came to Him, he was not rejected; or when the faith of friends brought the man who could not walk and lowered him through the roof, Jesus did not reject him either.  The man who lived in the tombs, possessed by demons…mental illness in today’s world, was also not rejected.  So, how can WE, the church, reject those who are different?

Look around you.  Whether we admit it or not, everybody struggles with something! We are charged in 1 Peter 5 verses 9-10 to ‘offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.’ Our churches will find themselves abundantly blessed by the gifts differently abled persons have to offer, if we just change our attitude!

So what can we do to be more accessible to all? The UCC Disabilities Ministries Board is in the process of developing a guide to help churches become accessible.  We must start by removing all barriers that keepanyone from fully participating in the life of the church by adopting an attitude of inclusion.

First, recognize that not all disabilities are physical.  Also recognize that Lord willing, we will all live to an old age but that aging process may not always be kind.

Have patience with the child with attention deficit disorder who can’t sit still during service.  Show compassion toward the mom who is doing her best.  Rethink how to approach the veteran who seems standoffish but in fact may be suffering from PTSD and is uncomfortable with others in his or her space.  Acknowledge with a smile the person sitting next to you.  He or she may have an unshared diagnosis of depression and needs one small glimmer of hope to keep from jumping off the bridge on the way home.

Be sure to face people when speaking to them, including coming down to their level by pulling up a chair if talking to a person in a wheelchair or scooter.  Always speak directly to the person, not just to their companion.  Stress the person, not the disability, such as saying, “she’s a woman who is blind” rather than a “blind woman.” And always ask before assisting someone.

Let’s change our attitude from rejection to inclusion and from inaccessible to accessible.  More guidelines to the process of becoming accessible to all are available.  I will be happy to talk with those interested in learning about them.

My message ended with Romans 12 verses 12-13:

“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.”