The following is the report which was prepared on March 20, 2020 for the Susquehanna Conference Annual Conference Journal. It includes information about the Disability Ministries Task Force, what we have accomplished in the past year, and our plans for the future.
Public Invited to Take “Beyond Suffering” Course on Disability Ministry First United Methodist Church is pleased to offer “Beyond Suffering”, the groundbreaking course created to transform the way we view God’s plan for disability. “Beyond Suffering” equips participants with the tools and knowledge they need to begin or enhance a disability ministry within their church or faith community. The demand for churches to develop disability ministries is growing daily. According to the National Health Interview Survey, currently one out of six children (17 percent) in the United States has special needs, with autism affecting 1 in 45 births. This has a dramatic effect on the spiritual life of entire families. In fact, many families with a child who has a special need do not attend church because they do not feel accepted. Parents also may be concerned that the church staff and volunteers cannot adequately care for the needs of their child. “Beyond Suffering,” designed by the Christian Institute on Disability and Joni & Friends, is unique in that it views disability and suffering through a Biblical lens, and is only taught by certified trainers. Lisa Wickenheiser, M.Ed., a certified instructor and member of First Church, will teach the “Beyond Suffering” course. Lisa is a local educator who has a passion and personal connection to those living with a disability. See Lisa’s bio here. The eight-week course will conclude with a field trip to the "Finding the Forgotten" exhibit at Joni & Friends in Mountville, PA. This free exhibit gives an immersive, realistic glimpse into five or six very personal disability journeys. “First Church is blessed to have an active disability ministry,” said Tina Eaton, Director of Discipleship at First Church. “And we have a responsibility, not just to continue to grow our own ministry, but also to encourage and equip other churches in developing their own disability ministries.” “Beyond Suffering” is open to all. You do not have to be a member of First Church or any church to participate. “Our dream is to build a network of churches in the local area that cooperatively work together to bring about God’s glorious plan for a fully inclusive body of Christ,” Eaton said. Classes will be held at First United Methodist Church, 135 W. Simpson Street in Mechanicsburg. A brief orientation meeting will be held on Jan. 20, 2020. Course dates are Jan. 27, Feb. 3, 10, 17 and 29, and March 2, 9, 16 and 23. Classes will run from 6:15 to 7:45 p.m. The course concludes on March 28 with the field trip to Joni & Friends “Finding the Forgotten” exhibit. Find the flyer here. The $35 fee includes a workbook, CD-ROM with valuable resource materials, and the cost of the field trip. Learn more about “Beyond Suffering” at https://www.joniandfriends.org/ministries/christian-institute-on-disability/beyond-suffering/. To register for the course, go to ttsu.me/ndcagr or contact Tina Eaton at firstname.lastname@example.org or 717.766.4611, ext 104.
Here are some ideas for how your church can start to make your worship services and other activities more inclusive for people with disabilities.
One author I highly recommend to you is Erin. M. Kelly. Erin is a professional writer and poet who also has cerebral palsy. In this interview, Erin speaks candidly about the joys of writing, the struggle of finding a publisher, and the powerful message of her poetry.
Bulletin inserts and more worship resources to help you celebrate Disability Awareness Sunday!
October 12, 2019 marks the first official Disability Awareness Sunday ever honored by the Susquehanna Conference of the United Methodist Church.
The following links are for PDF-OCR files of the bulletins for Annual Conference 2019, to be held from May 30- June 1st at the Hershey Lodge. The Rev. Jennett Wertz will provide ASL interpretation for the worship services. Priority seating for people with disabilities and/or their companions will be available near the front of the auditorium.