Empower. Advocate. Educate.
On January 18 2019, the Susquehanna Conference established a Disabilities Ministries Task Force. The task force comes under the umbrella of Inclusiveness and Connecting Ministries. We also work in close connection with DisAbility Ministries Committee of the United Methodist Church (Check out their website for even more great resources!)
We also work in close partnership with the Mental Health Task Force of the Susquehanna Conference (Rev. Evelyn Madison, Chair) and Child Advocacy (Rev. Ed Zeiders, Chair).
Concern for people with disabilities is rooted in our Biblical call as Christians as well as in the church polity of the United Methodist Church.
The Book of Discipline 2016, ¶653, states, “There shall be in each annual conference a committee on disability concerns or other structure to provide for the functions of this ministry and maintain the connectional relationship.” It also states that, “The basic membership of the committee shall be nominated and elected by established procedures of the respective annual conference. Each annual conference shall determine the number and composition of the total membership.”
The Social Principles of the United Methodist Church state that, “We recognize and affirm the full humanity and personhood of all individuals with mental, physical, developmental, neurological, and psychological conditions or disabilities as full members of the family of God (¶162I).”
The Social Principles also affirms that people with disabilities have a “rightful place in both the Church and society,” and the need for the church to be in ministry with “children, youth, and adults,” who have “mental, physical, developmental, and/or psychological and neurological conditions,” or other disabilities that might make it more challenging for them to participate “in the life of the Church and the community.”
Furthermore, The Social Principles urges the church, “to recognize and receive the gifts of persons with disabilities to enable them to be full participants in the community of faith.”
Our Mission is to lead the Susquehanna Conference in creating a culture where people with disabilities are fully included in all aspects of worship, leadership, ministry, and mission. We will work to advocate for the needs of people with disabilities, empower people with disabilities, and educate members of our churches and communities about issues related to disabilities and disability awareness.
The Members of the Disabilities Ministries Task Force:
Rev. Rebecca L. Holland (Chair), Rev. Mitch Galloway, Rev. Craig Gommer, Rev. James C. House, Rev. Jennett Wertz, Rev. Robert Stump, Rev. Carol Gathagan, Pastor Julie Rosensteel, Pastor Steven Atansoff, Mrs. Pamela Harker, Ms. Abigail Kane, Mr. Jerry Post, Mrs. Wendy Albright, Mrs. Lisa Lupold, and Mr. Jeffery Holland.
Our Plans for 2019
We have established the following goals for 2019:
- Pray for the life of the church and especially for the needs of clergy and laity with disabilities; and
- Create a Disability Ministries Task Force of the Susquehanna Conference Website & Facebook Page. The website will be used as a way to collect resources and information that will be helpful to the people of the Susquehanna Conference. The website will include a curated group of resources that relate to issues of disability, advocacy, outreach, empowerment, and awareness. The Disability Ministries Task Force will also create a Facebook Page and schedule regular posts to social media; and
- Develop a Newsletter: The Disability Ministries Task Force of the Susquehanna Conference will create an annual newsletter which will be sent to individuals and local churches who are interested in receiving news, worship resources, and other information that relates specifically to issues of disability and disability awareness; and
- Create a List of Available Accommodations: The Disability Ministries Task Force will work to compile a list which will be maintained on their website in which any church in the Susquehanna Conference that has accommodations available (such as hearing assistive devices or an elevator) can choose to be listed in order to make it easier for people in the conference with disabilities to find places where they can worship; and
- Educate & Advise: The Disability Ministries Task Force will make themselves available to speak with and advise local churches if a local church has questions about ways in which they can become more accessible. The Disability Ministries Task Force will also provide seminars, webinars, workshops, and other educational opportunities for individuals and local churches who are interested in learning more about accessibility issues, disability awareness, and empowering people with disabilities; and
- Advocate for the needs of clergy and laity with disabilities; and
- Offer support to conference boards of Discipleship (camping, Christian education), Global Ministries (disaster and mission programs, health-care institutions), and Older Adult Ministries to help them ensure that their ministries promote full participation for persons with disabilities; and
- Raise Awareness: Members of the Disability Ministries Task force will work to raise awareness that the committee exists and wants to help churches and other entities
- Establish a Disability Awareness Sunday for the Susquehanna Conference as the second Sunday in October by promoting awareness about issues related to disabilities, providing a space for people with disabilities to participate in worship leadership, and participating (if churches choose to do so) in a special offering for Advanced Special #3021054 to benefit The United Methodist DisAbility Ministry Committee; this special offering will support the ongoing efforts of disabilities ministries throughout the global United Methodist connection. (Note: Disability Awareness Sunday is part of a resolution which we have currently sent to annual conference).
Where Do I Begin?
If you are looking for easy ways to make your church more accessible, we recommend the article, “16 Easy the Church Can Be More Acceisslbe to People with Disabilities.” This article was written by the chair of our task force and can be found for free on her website.
You can also find an abundance of great resources at the website for the DisAbility Ministries of the United Methodist Church.
Are you a clergy person with a disability? We encourage you to view the work of The United Methodist Association of Ministers with Disabilities and to consider joining our caucus.
Serve With Us
Is God calling you to serve on the Disabilities Ministries Task Force? We are especially looking for laity to serve with us. If you are interested in joining the Task Force, please contact Rev. Rebecca Holland through the contact form on this website. You can also contact us for questions or other inquiries. We would love to hear from you!
Rev. Rebecca L. Holland
Disability Ministries Task Force, Chair