As Anabaptist Disabilities Network reaches its 15th anniversary, I’m gratified by the accomplishments of my co-laborers and predecessors; more church congregations consider accessibility and inclusion to be a part of their regular ministry.
As society, congregations, and families evolve and change over time however, we must ask ourselves, "Where do we still need to work at disability inclusion?" Several ideas come to mind.
First, I find that worship and Christian education materials often fail to engage children and adults with intellectual disabilities. We must pursue methods of presenting material that meaningfully connects these brothers and sisters to the love of Jesus and God.
Second, disabilities associated with aging (hearing loss, vision loss, reduced mobility, dementia, etc.) will become more prominent as congregations age. These limitations will prevent people from participating in the life of the church if we fail to make accommodations. Using the Supportive Care model as a regular part of congregational care will be vital to making sure that everyone receives the nurture and pastoral care that they need. Sharing the support for an individual or family with many needs among a team of people can ensure that no one person will be overwhelmed by care-giving.
Finally, it's time for congregations to call more people with disabilities to pastoral leadership. To paraphrase the Apostle Paul, God uses our imperfections to make us perfect in Christ.
Thank you for your support of this vital ministry in years past
and in the years to come.