Presbyterians for Disability Concerns welcomes those who affirm, support and advocate for the gifts, rights and responsibilities of persons with disabilities in the total life of the church.
Four consultants are available to help with questions about welcoming persons with disabilities.
PC(USA) Disability Inclusion Sunday 2015
Better Together: Transformed by God’s Variety of Gifts
Whether your congregation or worshiping community celebrates Disability Inclusion Sunday on June 14, 2015, the date designated in the Presbyterian calendar, or at some other time (or times), Presbyterians for Disability Concerns (PDC), one of the ten networks of the Presbyterian Health, Education and Welfare Association (PHEWA) urges you to take advantage of our many resources.
This year, PDC, in collaboration with the Office of the General Assembly and the five human resources departments of the PC(USA), is excited to make available, “Better Together: Transformed by God’s Variety of Gifts.” This resource, commissioned by action of the 219th General Assembly (2010), has been created for use in almost any context where people gather. It includes powerful personal testimonies and strategies for inclusion in every setting, from worship and Christian education to places of employment.
Members of the leadership team that created this newest PC(USA) resource will be offering a workshop on it at this summer’s Big Tent Event in Knoxville, Tennessee (July 30 – August 1). If you will be attending Big Tent, this is a Don’t Miss Opportunity- Encouraging Full Inclusion of People with Disabilities in our Congregations and Councils (Big Tent Session D on Friday, July 31st). Registration information is available at: http://www.presbyterianmission.org/ministries/big-tent/
PDC exists to encourage and celebrate the gifts of all people including persons with disabilities. PDC’s understanding of “disability” describes it as any condition that has the potential to prevent an individual from living a full life. Some disabilities are visually evident, others are more hidden - but PDC members understand that the most destructive barrier is that of attitude; an attitude that is all too often held by the "temporarily abled." An attitude that says, "No, you can't!" The message of Presbyterians for Disability Concerns is just the opposite: "Yes, we can!” Because each one of us was created for joy and relationship.
“Better Together” is available here for free download. See below for other useful PDC resources for observing disability awareness and inclusion throughout the year.
Previous years' resources remain timely...
Disability Access/Inclusion Sunday 2014
The seasons of life in the family of faith: resources for worship and inclusion
June 22, 2014 is designated on the Presbyterian Planning Calendar as Disability Inclusion Sunday. PHEWA’s Presbyterians for Disability Concerns (PDC) network has developed our annual resource packet to help in observing this day- on June 22nd or whenever works best in the life of your worshiping community. In addition to our full packet of worship and awareness resources that you will see in the next posting on this page, we have developed a “scaled-down” version of our packet, with resources to perhaps introduce this emphasis for the first time. Feel free to supplement what is offered here with additional pieces from the full packet. With our 2014 theme, The Seasons of Life in the Family of Faith: Resources for Worship and Inclusion, we challenge congregations and worshiping communities to become authentic circles of inclusion for persons with disabilities in all stages of life. Sometimes it takes courage to invite others into our circles, or we may not know how to be more genuinely welcoming. Our prayer is that these PDC resources will help you to think through the challenges and take the risk of being more inclusive. Working together, we can make sure that no one is missing from the Lord’s Table and that the gifts of all God’s people are valued, affirmed, and put to good use, to the Glory of God. Thank you for your role in making this the reality.
Download Packets from previous years
- 2013 packet: Before and Beyond the Benediction condensed version OR download the full packet of materials online
- 2012 packet: A Variety of Gifts: Inclusion of People with Disabilities as We Age (Download as a PDF) OR read the materials online
- 2011 packet: Inclusion from the Inside Out: Welcoming God’s Children of All Abilities
- 2010 packet: The Wounds of War: The Church as a Healing Community
Walking with wounded warriors
Presbyterian chaplain works with soldiers, families to provide healing, hope
by Toni Montgomery
MONTREAT, N.C. - When we hear about casualties of war, we tend to think about those who don’t return home. But many in the military do return home with wounds of various types and degree.
For the Rev. Lucy Der-Garabedian, who serves with a wounded warrior unit, helping these men and women has been part of her job for the past two years.
Der-Garabedian, an active duty Army chaplain with 16 years of service, was among the chaplains who recently took advantage of a chance to connect and relax at Montreat Conference Center during the Aug. 6-9 Presbyterian Council for Chaplains and Military Personnel retreat.
Read a book review from the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)
Life After War
The Blue Cascade: A Memoir of Life After War
by Mike Scotti
Grand Central Publishing (2012), $26.99
Prayer Litany for Celebrating Abilities and Love
Written by Eric W. Edwards (with a little help from his Mom, Christine Cornell)
Eric and Christine are members of Memorial Presbyterian Church in Appleton, Wisconsin. Eric is an active deacon, sharing God’s love with members of his “neighborhood.” He especially likes to go with a deacon buddy to deliver flowers making people happy. Eric also sends cards, makes calls and visits, offers hugs and prayers and never misses a meeting of the Board of Deacons.
Congregational Audit of Disability Accessibility & Inclusion
This Congregational Audit of Disability Accessibility & Inclusion was prepared by the Presbyterians for Disability Concerns (PDC) leadership team, in consultation with the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Disability Consultants.
Living into the Body of Christ: Towards Full Inclusion of People with Disabilities
This disabilities paper was approved by the 217th General Assembly (2006), includes a study guide.
Offering Our Gifts
New From Presbyterians for Disability Concerns (PDC)
Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone.
I Cor. 12:4-6
Offering Our Gifts is a PowerPoint presentation with pictures and audio that features the personal experiences of persons with disabilities. Included are “Access Your Heart,” by poet Sarah Nettleton, and “Beatitudes for an Inclusive Church,” by Bebe Baldwin. The resource celebrates the valuable gifts people with disabilities bring to the Body of Christ and offers practical suggestions for including people with disabilities in the church’s life.
Originally developed by the PDC Leadership Team for orientation of Commissioners to the 219th General Assembly (2010), the PowerPoint is appropriate and recommended for all church gatherings.
2010 Nancy Jennings Award
Presbyterians for Disability Concerns (PDC)
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 with an eight year presidency 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.
I think a word of clarification is needed here! In our congregation the intergenerational approach is highly effective. Our limited number of people in each age groups leads to a natural blending of the ages. Our worship time fro young people is multigenerational. The limited number of youth decreases the power of peer pressure so our junior and senior highs, as well as college students, join in the traditional children's time. It takes place in the pews, not on the steps. The intergenerational approach lends to age appropriateness for everyone and doesn't support any discrimination based on ability. If it were done on the steps, the act of sitting on the steps would eliminate the older people!
Hi Nancy! We have also wrestled with this issue concerning our youth with various disabilities who are obviously older than the children who come forward for the children's sermon. We decided that due to their age, it was time to change their routine to something as close as possible to that of their peers. It was not an easy transition because the predictability factor was so critical for them, and change in the routine wasn't easy, but we felt it was our best option for inclusion. Sarah's suggestions for leadership options are great. Something else we just recently stumbled onto is drumming. As a part of our youth music program, we have a drumming circle for youth which is truly something in which people of all abilities can participate. Yesterday we had seven boys drumming together, one with intellectual, visual and physical disabilities. It was awesome to see them all drumming together. They will be a part of our worship leadership in the near future, and I can't wait to see how it goes.
As a young adult, I think it is time to move your young adults to an age appropriate activity. At different churches and at the Big Tent, people have offered me children's bulletins or told my parents I could go to Sunday school even though I was twice as old as the oldest child. Help your young adults find meaningful ways to be include in your church. Maybe one way is helping with children's sermon, but think about greeting, ushering, helping set up communion, etc. Everyone no matter what age learns from the children's sermon, but there is a time you learn from the pew instead of on the steps with little kids. Not helping the young adults act like young adults does them a disservice.
Hi Nancy, Great question. On the positive side, these three young adults would seem to be quite willing to be involved in congregational life. As Sue said, age appropriateness is essential. Unfortunately, adults with intellectual disabilities are highly vulnerable to being seen as "eternal children." They may be powerfully socialized into this role (by well meaning others) and learn it well. Of course, this is good for no one. And it proves especially limiting for the person cast into the eternal child role -- making authentic social belonging unlikely and paving the way for a life trivialized, with profoundly low expectations, dependency… Of course, it doesn't have to be this way. The approach Sue suggested, changing the children's worship time to a time when people of all ages come forward could make this age appropriate. However, given the history of the young adults prior participation only with children, it will be important that they, along with other adults (but especially the young adults with intellectual disabilities) have an unequivocal assisting role with the children. Some other things to consider would be to explore the individual gifts and talents of these three young people and then connect each individually with ministries and congregational functions where other members of the same age and gender participate. (The placing of people with intellectual disabilities together, where people are thought to be the same, need the same things, want to be together…is another area of vulnerability needing address.) In other words, one person at a time ask: What are this person's gifts? What are ways members of the same age and gender participate in congregational life? What would this person have to contribute? What kind of consideration and support would he or she need to be successful? This can be good for everyone! Best wishes. Milt
Hi! Nancy, one way our congregation has integrated children and youth of all ages and abiliites into the children's time is in that the parents, grandparents, and other members of the congregation accompany the young people. Their presence eliminates any question about age appropriateness. The people leading the children's worship started including the older adults to help them with illustrations and to provide answers to questions. It blossomed into a regular part of the children's time. In smaller membership congregations when there are a limited number of children, soliciting the help of the entire congregation affirms an inclusive spirit. Blessings, Sue