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, classes, and activities that are accessible to all (A2A) and welcoming and inclusive of all persons with disabilities.

Some of our short term goals include increasing our voice and presence from the pews to the national planning boards; development of curriculum and programs for people with intellectual disabilities; building the Kreyer Scholarship Fund for students with disabilities who wish to pursue theological education; and increasing our web and social media presence.

Someone interested in serving with us should be someone who is a member of a UCC church, 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. The Board also meets in person annually, usually over a two day period to set goals and plan for the year; annual meeting is schedule by the Board and recently has been occurring in the fall. A Board term is six (6) years and includes a willingness to make a financial commitment to our disability ministry each year.

Some of the specialized gifts we are seeking this year are:  web and social media development skills, creative, effective fundraising talents, event planning skills, financial skills, writing and editing expertise, and having a Bold Voice. Above all, we welcome all those with a great passion for disability ministry.  In exchange, we offer you an opportunity to learn new skills and experience personal growth and knowledge of the workings of our denomination.

We encourage interested candidates to visit our website at http://www.uccdm.org to learn more about us. Located there are Board updates, our blog, and the application.  We look forward to hearing from you soon! The deadline for nominations is July 31, 2014.

 

UCCDM June 2014 Update

Grace and Peace to those who may be interested to know about 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 in February 2014.

At the UCCDM Annual Meeting last October, the Board identified three main goals for this year: strengthening relationships, strengthening the A2A (Accessible to All) program, and continuing our ecumenical work.

  • Relationships-The UCCDM Board of Directors continues to work to strengthen our relationships within the UCC. The national setting of the church developed a social media meme for “Inclusivity and Accessibility” as part of the March Fourth for justice campaign. UCCDM engaged March Forth via the UCCDM Facebook page and supporting Special Olympics’ “Spread the Word to End the Word” campaign.
  • Relationships-The UCCDM Board of Directors has also been in dialogue with the national setting to encourage disability awareness and perspectives in the many communication of the national setting including columns such as ‘Dear Theo’ and ‘Sermon Seeds’.
  • Relationships-The UCCDM Board has been discussing how we may further engage in the denominational focus on literacy, perhaps highlighting issues specific to learning disabilities.
  • A2A (Accessible to ALL)-The A2A Subcommittee of the Board has received permission to update and revise the A2A resource entitled “Anybody, Everybody, Christ’s Body” and is developing criteria that will guide the redevelopment of this resource.
  • Ecumenical–UCCDM Vice Chair, Rev. Jeanne Tyler represented UCCDM/UCC at the National Council of Churches’ Christian Unity Gathering meeting in Washington D.C. the focus of the meeting was mass incarceration and the school to prison pipeline. Rev. Tyler was the only self-identified person with a disability at the meeting and reported that she was able to lift up the issues of mental health and learning disabilities as factors inseparable from the school to prison pipeline.

The UCCDM Board would also like to report that we have completed and/or continue to work on the following projects:

  • UCCDM Lenten Devotional was presented on uccdm.org. UCCDM sought original theological reflections for the Lenten season that would highlight theological issues via the disability/mental health lens.
  • UCCDM transferred the uccdm.org website to a new server to allow for increased security and features. The website has been somewhat reorganized, and content continues to be reevaluated for relevance. A resource section has been added to the website and will continued to be expanded.
  • UCCDM Board has started to make plans for UCCDM presence and involvement at Synod 2015.
  • The Kreyer Scholarship Committee is seeking leadership donations to grow the endowment funds as we seek to raise $34,000 by 2015 so that scholarships may be offered to persons with disability/mental health concerns preparing for authorized ministry.
  • Conversations about the next Widening the Welcome event have begun.
  • The Nominating Sub-Committee is developing the nomination process for the next class of UCCDM Board Members.
  • Board members and members of Conference Inclusion Teams saw that UCCDM and the A2A program had a presence at the Annual Gatherings of the Northern California/Nevada Conference, Rocky Mountain Conference, and the Southern California/Nevada Conference. (If you tabled with UCCDM information at another Conference please let us know.)

The UCCDM continues to partner with the UCC Mental Health Network. The UCCDM Board continues to serve as a resource to individuals, pastors, and congregations seeking information to improve their accessibility and inclusion. Individual UCCDM Board Members as well as individual UCC members continue to encourage local settings and conferences to increase their accessibility to and inclusion of persons with disabilities. We would love to hear about your efforts to include people with disabilities in the life of the church as well as to know what types of support you may need from the national setting.

May Christ’s Peace Abide with You,

Rev. Kelli Parrish Lucas, UCCDM Secretary

 

Welcome to UCC Disabilities Ministries!

Featured

This site is designed and maintained by the UCC DM web team to help members and friends of the UCC explore what it means for our churches (and our hearts) to be “accessible to all” (A2A Study Guide).

  • How Do We Become A2A?
  • Why A2A? The mission of the United Church of Christ is to be Multiracial, Multicultural, Open and Affirming, and Accessible to All – A Church where everyone is welcome.
  • What is the A2A mandate?

UCCDM Lenten Devotional-Who Do You Say That I Am?

This is the eighth in the UCCDM Lenten Devotional 2014 series. This devotional reflection comes from Rev. Kelli Parrish Lucas, UCCDM Secretary. Her bio cam be found on the Board of Directors page.

Maundy Thursday

Genesis 12 ; Gospel of John 13, 18

It occurs to me that Sarai, the wife of the patriarch Abram, has something in common with Jesus. Both had their identities betrayed by someone they loved and trusted.

Earlier in this Lenten season we found ourselves confronted by the call of God to Abram to leave Ur, when we follow that narrative to Genesis 12 we find Abram and Sarai called again to leave for a new land. This time they are traveling from Haran into Egypt. Verses 10-20 are often left out of the lectionary which stops at verse 14. It’s almost as if the lectionary is trying to avoid the issue of true identity as it is fully raised in the text. You see, in the narrative Abram asks Sarai to pretend to be his sister rather than his wife. Thus, Sarai briefly becomes one of the wives of Pharaoh. When Pharaoh discovers this he returns Sarai to Abram and sends them on their way.

We don’t hear Sarai’s thoughts on these events. We can imagine what a wife might say to a spouse who asked her to pretend to be a sibling rather than a spouse. But that is not in the text. What is in the text is that Sarai’s husband had to the power to change her identity, to say who she was. Furthermore, we see that Abram’s redefinition of Sarai’s identity leads her to yet another identity completely.

It is Maundy Thursday, Jesus has gathered with the disciples in the Upper Room to celebrate the Passover feast, to wash their feet, to proclaim that his body and life are given for them (and us), and to proclaim his coming betrayal. The text tells us that it is as Jesus does these things that the decision is made in Judas’ heart to betray the Master. Jesus even tells Judas to go and do what must be done. Judas, one of the twelve disciples, one of Jesus’ trusted friends is the one who betrays him. It is Judas who must decide who he thinks Jesus is, and then based on that decision Judas will collude with the powers that be. It is Judas who will signal Jesus’ identity with a kiss in the garden.

In both these texts the issue of personal identity are the key issues. In both of these texts someone else decides whom the other is and takes action that will radically alter the both the life of the other, the life of one deciding who the other is, and the unfolding of history.

As a woman with disabilities, many of which are hidden, I know what it is like to have others decide who I am. I know what it is like to be “in the closet” of disability, to have relationships in which there is little knowledge of my disability, and the emotions others show when I let my full identity be known. I know what it is to be vulnerable with others to let them know the depths of my experience and have to trust that they will know with whom and when to share that knowledge. I know what it is like to feel that trust betrayed. To watch at the annual school-house parent night as your parent outs you sharing with the teachers about your disabilities in front of classmates and other teachers. I know what it is like in the workplace when co-workers sense there is something different about you, but not knowing what it is decide they will name it–and name it wrongly. I know what it is like when others redefine your identity such that it disrupts and utterly re-routes your own sense of self. With disability it is not so much identity politics as it is identity of individuality/self that is intertwined with the experience of living in a body so different from the norm that the very world around you is rife with barriers that disable. Life with disability is asking each individual you encounter, in some way–who do you say that I am?

Loving God, You who know me better than I know myself. You who created me to be fearlessly and wonderfully made. Help me to know myself, to share myself, and delight in the friends I break bread with. Empower me to raise my face even when others define me in ways that threaten my identity or life. Grant me Your strength and love, to always know myself, and to do Your will. Amen.

 

In the News: UCC Congregation Uses Technology to Become Accessible to Persons with Hearing Loss

The UCC News has published an article about First Congregational Church in Madison, Wis. which recently installed T-Coil in the sanctuary. The T-Coil Technology allows those with hearing impairments to better hear the service. It is one step the church is taking toward becoming A2A. Congregation Installs T-Coil for Accessibility for People with Hearing Loss