The two congregations have been honored for making specific efforts to ensure that all may worship, serve, be served, learn, and grow in the presence of God, as valued members of the Christian community.
Accepting this year's award on behalf of the Cedar Lake Church were delegates Bob and Glenda Shull. Pastor Scott Duffey and Becky Duffey accepted the award on behalf of the Staunton Church. Along with a certificate, each congregation received a copy of Circles of Love, a book recently released by Anabaptist Disabilities Network.
Open Roof Fellowship
Church of the Brethren congregations that are committed to and actively engaged in ministry for and with persons with disabilities are invited to join these congregations and others in the Open Roof Fellowship. Submit an application / share your congregation's story.
Cedar Lake Church of the Brethren has made significant strides through the years to accommodate the needs of its members and empower all people for engagement in worship and in service, expanding their welcome to others in their community.
They have supported children with traumatic brain injury who are now adults active in the congregation and serving as ushers, greeters, and grounds keepers. In addition, Cedar Lake supports students with physical and learning challenges who participate in a work/service program overseen by the local high school’s special education department. Some of these students are members of the church. Along with being a placement for this program during the school year, the church provides summer opportunities for service as well.
Cedar Lake has paid special attention to the Christian education needs of all, utilizing the gifts and abilities of a member with a degree in special education to assist in children’s programming. As that program expands, staff considerations include a commitment to continue to meet all children’s particular physical and emotional needs.
In addition, they have met challenges posed by age-related disabilities providing large-print and projected texts and hearing enhancement devices. The congregation has remodeled for accessibility to allow those with wheelchairs easy access to the building. Hand railings and automated doors welcome all who might need extra physical assistance.
Staunton Church of the Brethren has discovered that making a few changes can make a world of difference to those whose disabilities might otherwise compromise their level of participation in the life of the church.
Bill Cline, who uses a walker, writes: "We used to have to use the back door on the lower level to get to the fellowship hall; now we have the elevator. I don’t know how we’d get in the church without it."
With regard to worship, Cline comments: "The screen is a lot easier to read than the hymnal [and] shorter pews are a wonderful help to those with walkers."
Don Shoemaker, who uses a wheelchair, writes, "Now we can get to the basement without going outside and around." Norma Shoemaker adds that without the changes Don would have been unable to attend any longer.
The changes to the building have created a worship space with a cross in the center of the sanctuary where the pews have been shortened for accessibility. A screen (with attention to clear, uncluttered text) allows those with sight limitations to participate in worship. Hearing devices have enabled one member to remain active in the choir.
Debbie Eisenbise serves on the board of directors for Anabaptist Disabilities Network. On the Church of the Brethren denominational staff, Debbie is Director of Intergenerational Ministries and Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford is Director of News Services.