I write this month not only as a worship leader in a congregation, but also as the provider of Spiritual Services for an organization that offers services for people with mental and physical disabilities. One of my responsibilities in this position is to stay in conversation with congregations and leaders about ministering to people with disabilities.
In August, I gave the invitation to local congregations to celebrate the brothers and sisters in Christ in our communities who live with disabilities. I would like to extend this invitation to all of you.
The Reformed Church in America recognizes the second Sunday in October as Disability Awareness Sunday. I would like to encourage you to consider planning your worship services that day around the themes of unity and community. You may also choose to include children and adults with disabilities in the leadership of the service through their participation on a worship team or in the reading of Scripture and prayers. The second edition of the Inclusion Handbook, edited by Terry A. De Young and Mark Stephenson, says, “All believers are called by God. Therefore, each believer has a mission to fulfill that has been given by God. The body of Christ, the church, has many parts, but is one. Each member of Christ’s body is essential for a healthy church” (page 9).
Our brothers and sisters in Christ who live with disabilities have much to offer to their church family. Disability ministry is yet an unexplored land waiting to be discovered. It has a place in the church’s mission field. We do not need to travel very far from home to find opportunities for this kind of evangelism. In ministering to my friends with disabilities, I have discovered organizations and denominations who have wonderful resources available for disability ministry in the local church. The links are listed below. I invite you to check them out.
Reformed Church in America
Websites associated with Joni Eareckson Tada’s ministry
The facebook page for the Reformed Church in America disability ministry
The CLC Network