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:
The members of the Disabilities Ministries Task Force:
Clergy: 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 Jeffery D. Holland, Pastor Steven Atanasoff
Laity: Mrs. Pamela Harker, Ms. Abigail Kane, Mr. Jerry Post, Mrs. Wendy Albright, and Lisa Lupold, Mr. Alex Ross-Schnaubelt, Mr. Nate Ross-Schnaubelt, Mr. John Henderson
Partners in Ministry: Rev. Evelyn Madison (Mental Health Task Force, Chair), Rev. Ed Zeiders (Child Advocacy, Chair)
What We Have Accomplished in the Last Year (2021 until Spring 2022)
What we have accomplished in the last year:
1. Disability Ministries Awareness Sunday: Disability Ministries Awareness Sunday was held on the Second Sunday of October in 2021. The donations raised for Disability Awareness Sunday were sent to the Disability Ministries Committee of the entire United Methodist Church. These donations were then used to provide grants to churches for disability ministry. We submitted a resolution to Annual Conference 2022 for Disability Awareness Sunday to be held on the Second Sunday of October on October 9, 2022.
2. We provided adaptative technology to a young woman in Rwanda who is visually impaired and an orphan. Arlene Brown, also known as Mama Arlene, visited the Altoona District in November of 2021. She is the founder of an orphanage/school in Rwanda and the head of the nonprofit Hope Made Real. During her visit, she shared with us about a young teenager named Claudine who she cares for in Rwanda. Claudine is an orphan and visually impaired. She also has a complicated eye disease. She shared with us that Claudine was in need of visual aids so that she could go to high school. Our task force fundraised money from churches within the Altoona District and throughout the Susquehanna Conference to buy a handheld CCTV for Claudine. This piece of adaptive technology can be used to enlarge textbooks and handwritten material. The donations from our conference were incredibly generous. We consulted with a doctor of low vision, who recommended a very durable device that Claudine will hopefully be able to use for years. We had enough money donated to purchase the handheld CCTV, a spare chord, and two extra batteries. Money was also donated so that Claudine could have a surgery to preserve the vision that she has left.
3. We maintained our relationship with the United Methodist Association of Ministers with Disabilities and worked to assist them in creating resources for annual conferences. Rev. Hank Jenkins (chair of UMAMD) is currently developing curriculum that annual conference can use to provide information to their DCOM and BOOM about how to support candidates with disabilities. Members of the task force helped Rev. Jenkins with some of his research questions and attended his final presentation.
5. Arranged for the reallocation of a Braille Bible to a person who is blind. Braille Bibles are incredibly large and expensive. It takes at least 47 volumes to write the entire Bible in Braille and an whole bookcase is often used to store one entire Braille Bible. A Braille Bible was donated to the Disability Ministry Task Force and we were pleased to find a home for it. This Bible will now be read and cherished by a person who is blind.
6. We maintained our Facebook Page and used social media to promote disability awareness. We post regularly to the Facebook Page to continue to raise awareness and communicate disability related news. You can find us at @SUSUMCDisability.
7. Website: We maintained our website and renewed our unique domain name (DisabilityUMC.org). Our website includes resources, news, and a blog. Our website is a way to collect reso
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 Accessible 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
Christ Community UMC