UCCDM Updates Publication to Help Congregations, Associations, and Conferences Become Accessible to All (A2A)

The UCC Disabilities Ministries (UCCDM) has recently released an updated publication entitled “Any Body, Every Body, Christ’s Body: A Guide for Congregations, Associations, and Conferences for Becoming Accessible to All.” The subtitle is a response to the growing need for all settings of the UCC to become “Accessible to All” (A2A) persons with disabilities. The call for the UCC to become accessible in all aspects of church life including worship, fellowship, and leadership was made clear when the Twenty-Fifth General Synod adopted the resolution “Called to Wholeness in Christ: Becoming a Church Accessible to All” in 2005.

The updated “Any Body, Every Body, Christ’s Body” contains four concise sections. The first section introduces various forms, but not all forms, of disability and accessibility. The second section addresses how leadership can be accessible to all. Third section addresses attitudes that often discourages people with disabilities and their families from church participation. The fourth section addresses ways to create accessible communication for the church community. These sections will help UCC settings address specific needs called for by the Synod “Called to Wholeness in Christ”. These sections will help UCC settings learn how to establish an inclusion task force, how to explore your building and programs for accessibility, how to invite persons with disability to church and into leadership positions and how to seek out resources and mentors in the disability committee so that the civil rights “nothing about us without us” commitment to persons with disabilities is maintained.

This new publication provides information and resources that will guide congregations as they answer the call to become Accessible to All. The resource is available for free at uccdm.org. The UCCDM Board of Directors looks forward to being a resource to other setting of the church. How-to support for becoming A2A is available. Questions can be directed to chair@uccdm.org or secretary@uccdm.org.

UCC Disabilities Ministries Seeks Nominations for Board of Directors

The UCC Disabilities Ministries Board’s Nominations Committee is seeking people who are passionate about disability ministry who would like to serve on our Board.  Our Board is made up of people with disabilities, professionals who work in the disability field, and family members of people with disabilities.  Our mission is to encourage our denomination to create worship and meeting places, programs and leadership that are accessible to all (A2A) and welcoming and inclusive of all persons with disabilities.  

Some of our short term goals include increasing the number of A2A congregations in the UCC; providing guidance to associations, conferences, camps, and other settings of the UCC about how they can live out the commitment to be Accessible to All; working to have a UCCDM presence at Synod 2017; and major fundraising to support the future of the ministry.

Someone interested in serving with us should be someone who is a member of a UCC congregation; regularly reads, responds to, and is comfortable with using email; can devote a minimum of ten (10) hours a month to this work, which includes a monthly conference call meeting of about 90 minutes to two hours. Being a Board Director includes a willingness to make a financial commitment to our disability ministry each year and serve on at least one Board subcommittee. At this time we are looking to fill two terms that will end in September 2017. According to UCCDM by-laws persons who fill these seats at this time would be eligible to be re-elected for the 2017-2023 term on the UCCDM Board of Directors. Two other seats for the 2017-2023 term will also need to be filled and persons applying at this time will also be considered for those seats.

We encourage interested candidates to visit our website at http://www.uccdm.org to learn more about us. The nominating form must be filled out online at  UCCDM Board Director Nominations 2016. Nominations must be received by December 9th, 2016.

Yours in Ministry,

Rev. Kelli Parrish Lucas

Chair, UCC Disabilities Ministries Board of Directors

How to Become A2A

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The UCCDM Board of Directors has approved a new and improved publication to help local Congregations, Association, and Conferences become Accessible to ALL (A2A)! The new publication is called “Any Body, Every Body, Christ’s Body” and replaces the curriculum of the same title that was produced in the 1990’s.

The new Any Body, Every Body, Christ’s Body can be accessed here as a pdf. Please send a message to secretary@uccdm.org if you need the information in a particular format. At the current time there are no plans to make print versions.

This guide is designed to be used in conjunction with the Accessibility Audit and A2A checklist that were revised earlier this year. If you have other questions related to A2A please contact the board at Chair@uccdm.org.

Annual Meeting of the UCCDM Board of Directors

The United Church of Christ Disabilities Ministries Board of Director’s Annual Meeting will be held on Thursday September 29 and Friday September 30, 2016. The meeting will take place at the Hilton Garden Inn in Addison, Illinois. Some Board members will arrive early to attend the Pathways to Promise Conference on September 28th.

UCCDM By-laws allow for persons interested in the work of the UCCDM to attend the Annual Board meeting at their own expense. This meeting will not be webcast, limited conference call access may be available. Anyone interested in attending this meeting should complete the Call to the UCCDM Annual meeting 2016 form. Anyone needing accommodations to attend this meeting should contact the UCCDM Chair, Rev. Kelli Parrish Lucas at chair@uccdm.org no later than September 15th.

Is Your Congregation Ready to Explore Accessible to All (A2A)?

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The UCCDM encourages all setting of the United Church of Christ to be Accessible to All (A2A)!

New tools are NOW ready to help local congregations determine how accessible their programs and buildings are. (Accessibility is more than a ramp!) This tool is called the Church Building And Program Accessibility Audit. This church accessibility audit can be completed online (Church Building and Program Audit ONLINE). It is also available to be printed as a PDF (UCCDM Church Building and Program Audit 12 pt PDF), LARGE PRINT PDF (UCCDM Church Building and Program Audit 16 pt PDF), Word Document (UCCDM Church Building and Program Audit 12 pt WORD), and LARGE PRINT Word Document (UCCDM Church Building and Program Audit 16 pt WORD).

Once a congregation completes a building and program audit and has identified how to become more (or continue being) inclusive of people with disabilities or/and mental health concerns, the congregation may be ready to become Accessible to All (A2A). To become A2A a congregation completes an A2A Checklist. The checklist was revised in 2016 is available to be completed online (UCCDM A2A Checklist ONLINE)or printed as a PDF (UCCDM A2A Checklist PDF) or in LARGE PRINT (UCCDM A2A Checklist LARGE PRINT PDF).

Congregations that complete the A2A Checklist are added to the A2A Listing!

“Come and see for He is risen!”

This is a second Easter entry, the thirteenth, in the UCCDM Lenten Devotional 2016 series. This devotional reflection comes from Rev. Kelli Parrish Lucas. Her bio can be found on the Board of Directors page.

“That message spread throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John announced:how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power; how he went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. We are witnesses to all that he did both in Judea and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree; but God raised him on the third day and allowed him to appear, not to all the people but to us who were chosen by God as witnesses, and who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead.” (Acts 10:37-10:41)

“Come and see!” That is the shout for today and we have walked a long Lenten road to hear it. In receiving this message we become witnesses to the fact of the resurrection.
The gospels are full of messages of Jesus’s ministry, including Jesus’s healing of people with various illnesses. The healing stories of the gospels can be troublesome for some people with disabilities. The trouble with “miraculous healings” occurs when one is not healed as another may suppose. What then? There is a history of people with disabilities being blamed and shamed for being less than “faithful” when they are not “healed”. There are places around the world today where people with disabilities are seen as demon possessed and may actually be subject to physical harm if not “healed”. (It is why we need international treaties such as the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.) Healings are part of the gospel and yet they remain troubling.
Then there is my own story. I was born with cerebral palsy (CP). I was born paralyzed on the right side. It is said I used my right hand to reach out for a toy at six months of age. It was not a miraculous cure. There were many other issues from the CP that would remain part of my life. My mother will sometimes say it was an answer to the prayers she said as she faithfully did my physical therapy. I’ve never been completely comfortable with that. I put in countless hours of multiple physical, occupational, and speech therapies well into my teens. If it was all prayer, why did I have to put in so much effort? Why do I still? But the truth is I do not know how it happened–I can not say it was all one thing and none of the other. What I do know  is that I have been fundamentally changed and that the spiritual presence of Jesus has been a constant in my life. I know I am a witness to the Risen Christ’s presence because there are things I have experienced in life and in the world I can explain no other way.
This is one reason I know I am called by God to preach about Jesus the Christ. This all sometimes confuses people who meet me and do not perceive that I have disabilities. Sometimes people have demanded proof of my disabilities. So sometimes I have to just laugh at those who do not believe my witness. And I trust that the Risen Christ will be made known in healing them too.
Dear God, we ask that You would watch over those people with disabilities who may be in danger. We ask you would grant us all hope. And that you would cure our unbelief. Amen!

 

UCCDM Annual Meeting for 2015 Announced

The UCCDM Annual Meeting for 2015 has been scheduled. The Annual Meeting will be held at the Windsdor/Hartford Marriott Hotel in Hartford, CT starting on Sunday, September 27, 2015 at 4pm and running through Tuesday, September 29 at 12:00 noon.

UCCDM Board Directors are expected to attend. According to UCCDM by-laws other persons who are interested in attending may do so , at their own expense. This meeting will not be webcast. If you have interest in attending or for more information, contact the Rev. Kelli Parrish Lucas at kelli@womenwhospeakinchurch.com.