2010 Nancy Jennings Award
Presbyterians for Disability Concerns (PDC)
Presented to the Rev. David E. Young
The Nancy Jennings Award honors a person or congregation or PC(USA) entity that affirms, supports and advocates for the gifts, rights and responsibilities of persons with disabilities in the total life of the church. With an unwavering sense of life’s joy and a broad lens for justice, Nancy Jennings, a founding member and longtime leader of PDC, was instrumental in turning emotional pain and exclusion from church participation because of her disability, into advocacy and positive change for inclusion of all people in the life of the church and society.
Presbyterians for Disability Concerns is pleased to announce that this 2010 Presbyterian Church (USA) General Assembly Ministry Award has been awarded to the Reverend David E. Young in recognition of his involvement with Arc of Midland’s Arc Faith Group and specifically the AFIRE (Accessing Faith in Religious Environments Experiential) Program.
David’s initial participation in the Arc Faith group, a non-profit group of parents from a variety of church denominations advocating for their children’s participation and acceptance in their choice of church/religious community, was one not only of advocacy for individuals with special needs/disabilities but also was instrumental in providing a link and resource to the larger Midland area faith community. His sensitive leadership led to the development of the AFIRE experiential program for church clergy and lay leaders including the opportunity to experience what worship at their church is like for individuals with a variety of disabilities. These experiences resulted in changes not only in structure but in attitudes.
Over time, with David Young’s respected leadership, the Arc Faith group grew to increased understandings of the needs of persons who live with hidden disabilities such as mental illness and consistently provided important clergy perspective to service provider representatives from the community.
David was a vital part in leading his own congregation, Chapel Lane Presbyterian Church, in providing a warm welcome to all who came and in finding out what special needs were involved so that there could be a positive worship experience. In many instances, David facilitated accessibility and inclusion to activities/events for members of his church and Arc Faith Group members, beyond the typical Sunday morning education and worship… to assistance in home and community.
In accepting the Nancy Jennings Award at the General Assembly PHEWA Awards Celebration Reception, David issued a call (even if in small steps) for all to begin or continue to make changes in our congregations and communities for affirming and supporting the gifts that persons with disabilities bring to the total life of the church.
So all may enter and that all may serve …
Thank you, Reverend David Young, recipient of the 2010 Nancy Jennings Award.