Friday, October 20, 2017

News and notes from AMD, 10/20/17

Our God-given gift of creativity and hearing aids

National survey on accessible parking

NYT disability series: You are special! Now stop being different

We have updated the Emergency Preparedness article on our website to include more roles for disabled people:

Mental illness, taboo for pastors

Click here for a list of events of interest to people in disability ministry.
UMAMD logo with the UM Cross and Flame and several disability symbols
This newsletter is generally issued weekly by the
United Methodist Association of Ministers with Disabilities,
a caucus of the United Methodist Church.

Click here to join this e-mail list.
Visit us on the web or Facebook

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Looking for Volunteers? -- Leo Yates, Jr.

Looking for Volunteers? Check with People with Disabilities

By Rev. Leo Yates, Jr.

October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM). It’s been in existence for over 70 years. The observance was established to recognize those with disabilities who make contributions to their community, even to their nation. Although many people with disabilities are unemployed, many do work.

Regardless of their employment status, people in general want to contribute, have a life purpose, and feel like they’re making a difference. Year around, but especially during this month, churches are encouraged to do more than be inclusive of people with disabilities (for example, through accessibility); they are encouraged to empower their church members with disabilities. Remember, employment is not exclusive to income, but also includes volunteer employment. 

Most persons with a disability will be able to let you know what he or she cannot do. Certainly, the Holy Spirit bestows spiritual gifts and talents to everyone (1 Corinthians 12:1-11). Along with this, the Apostle Paul describes how the church needs everyone through his metaphor of how each body part is essential to the body. “God put our bodies together in such a way that even the parts that seem the least important are valuable.  He did this to make all parts of the body work together smoothly, with each part caring about the others” (1 Corinthians 12:24-25). The beauty of this is grace is extended to everyone.

In the spirit of NDEAM, consider recruiting people with disabilities in the church or ministry setting. Some ideas include having volunteers:
  • ·         Call church members who are in the hospital or in the nursing home.
  • ·         Call or email church members who have missed a few Sundays to check on them. He/she can pass on any pastoral needs to ministry staff.
  • ·         Establish and facilitate a disability ministry committee (see page 16 of the BWC disability ministries manual).
  • ·         Do data entry on the computer or database.
  • ·         Call or email church members to invite them to church-related events (use a service such as Evite).
  • ·         Use Hubspot or your own templates to create or design newsletters or announcements for the bulletin board or to be emailed.
  • ·         Be a greeter or usher with these tools from UM Com.
  • ·         Assist Sunday school teachers (or be the Sunday school teacher) or work one-on-one with a child needing assistance.
  • ·         Keep up the UM tradition of eating together: organize and/or schedule potluck meals.
  • ·         Assist with the preparation of the Lord’s Table (e.g. bringing the bread and setting it up).
  • ·         Organize disability awareness events (Disability Awareness Sunday, monthly topics to post on the website or bulletin board, searching for articles or videos to post on the church website, and so on).
  • ·         Make copies of the bulletin and folding it.

The list is endless, and that’s part of the point. It’s often a matter of finding out what the spiritual gifts and interests of people with or without disabilities are and connecting them in ways that helps to lead or serve the faith community. Sometimes, we need to change our mindset and stop looking at only their disability, but to see the whole person who has gifts and graces for our church. By focusing only on the disability and thinking they need to be served, we mistakenly set them apart and/or possibly oppress them further. All people have a calling to serve the people of God.


Rev. Leo Yates, Jr. is a provisional deacon serving as the chairperson of Commission on Disability Concerns in the Baltimore-Washington Conference. He is also a caregiver for his father who is Deafblind and his mother who has multiple disabilities.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Pastor Kary Janaina S. Sales Borges

Originally addressed to Rev. Thomas Hudspeth, in response to a request after the First International Conference of Mission and Deaf Culture, and reprinted with permission of the author.

I come respectfully to talk about my experience and how I reached the priesthood of the Methodist Church. I am a blind person born in the city Rondonopolis, the state of Mato Grosso, located in the west-central region of Brazil, married to Gelson José Borges, mother of one daughter Ana Hadassa Sales Borges who is 4 years old and currently I reside and lead the Methodist Church of Porto Ferreira SP since 2012.

It has been and is a great grace to know and live for the work of our Lord. “To know and live for the Lord” is not just to read your Bible or to learn by heart some scriptures, but rather to have a knowledge like that of children. Is it not true that children taste everything by putting it in their mouths? They put everything in their mouths. I have noticed that through my daughter, ever since she was born. She used to do that and still does. To know the Word is to ‘taste it’ and to ‘delight in it’. Likewise, to know God is to experience his ‘taste’ and his ‘aroma’. The Lord has given me a great opportunity to come near him and to ‘taste’ him. To taste how the Lord is good… To taste how the Lord is an intimate friend and merciful. It was the church that gave me this privilege to have intimacy with the Lord. I knew Jesus through teachings of my family and of the church. But I had a personal experience in truly knowing him, by going to the Methodist Church in Rondonopolis, state of Mato Grosso, which is near where I lived. I went there in search of help for a friend who is also blind and who was very depressed. I took her to the Methodist Church, without even being a member there, with the hope that the Pastor could help her overcome her depression. I was happy at how well I was welcomed and I started to attend that church.

After almost one year, during a Sunday service, during a sermon of Rev. Fabio, current elected bishop in the council of our church, I felt in my heart the will to be a servant of the Lord.  You must be thinking: “Only after a year that you had arrived at church was it that you had a personal experience with Jesus?” Yes! On a Sunday evening, I opened my heart and listened to that sermon and something touched me deeply. I felt it in my heart, the taste of that moment and a strong aroma that marked me intensely. What Jesus had asked Peter and the other apostles, I also heard him ask me: “And you, who do you say I am?” (Matthew 16:15) In reality, it was Jesus asking me: “And you, Kary Janaina, who do you say I am?” Right at that moment and on that evening, I had my personal encounter with Jesus. Ever since that day, I felt the strength of my calling. Some days later I felt very afraid… I did not know what had happened to me. I searched for Pr. Fabio and told him what was happening. He also did not understand what was ministered to me. In face of this fact, he was very happy and he supported me in my calling.

With a conviction of my calling, the church referred me to the Baptist seminary in a nearby town, where I was for 6 months, and I felt that that was not what God had for me because they wanted me to be a Baptist. I returned to Rondonopolis and reported that to pastor Fabio and he gave me some guidance. Because I did not have the two year membership as is required, I had to wait until I did in order to be recommended by the church and go to the Methodist College in Sao Bernardo. I had received my calling in the Methodist Church and therefore that is where I should complete my studies, according to the will of God.

During this time I developed a project of evangelism with the blind people of the Louis Braille Institute of Rehabilitation where I had studied for 18 years previously. Many people accepted Christ there.

I completed the two years required of membership and in 2005 I went to do the pre-theological in the city of Lins, state of Sao Paulo for one year. I was afraid because I had never travelled alone before and I had to do it then, until I completed the course.

At that point, I took the vestibular (a test to enter into college). By the divine grace and a lot of determination on my part, I passed and I entered in 2006 into UMESP, the Methodist College in Rudi Ramos in the city of Sao Bernardo do Campo in the state of Sao Paulo. Everything went well in the course, but because I was the first blind person, it was a great experience for me and for the institution itself.

There was a time I went through a trial, that was when the great grace fell upon me: many people that should have supported me doubted that I would conclude the Theology Course. However, inspired by grace and by the Holy Spirit, comforted and helped by him, I dedicated myself to my studies. I was the object of irony for many, they made bets that I would not graduate in theology. Some friends and teachers supported me, they saw in me a reliable and determined person. Many of them are my friends to this day.

During five years, I would go to and from my home city of Rondonopolis and Sao Bernardo, which are approximately 1,800 km apart. Always travelling alone, and with God´s grace I concluded the course. God was carrying out his will in me, for me to be his servant. In the year of 2009 I was nominated as assistant pastor in the city of Ribeirao Preto in the state of Sao Paulo, for two years. In 2011, I was caught by surprise being nominated as senior pastor  of the Methodist Church in Porto Ferreira, in the state of Sao Paulo, where I still am currently. In 2014 I was appointed coordinator of the 5th and 8th ecclesiastical regions for the ministry of inclusion. Aside from my ministry, I take part in the handicapped association in this city called “Nós Somos Capazes” (“We are able”) of which I am one of the founders. I am hope for their families, who seek help. The Lord guides me so that I can comfort them and show, in the gospel, the answer to those who seek me in the hope of also having an experience of an encounter with God. He prepared me to be here. And, like a child, I continue to ‘taste’ the delight of having had such experience and of being able to share it. “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived”— the things God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Cor 2:9)

With the growth of my ministry, I have taken part in a couple of congresses, the “Integral Mission for the Deaf” in Belo Horizonte being one of them, where I had the great pleasure of meeting you. There I was able to notice how much we, as handicapped people, can learn and teach. That we are living  witnesses of God's love, in the way you expressed your ability of preaching the gospel of the good news to every creature. The biggest disability is in the soul of people who do not know and do not want to seek a deeper personal experience with God.

With you, I had the conviction that I am not alone, and that the distance and the language are not an obstacle for us having integration regarding many of the human special needs. I have noticed that this movement, your ministry and the ministry of Pr Ronilson Lopes de Almeida produce fruit as determined by our Lord Jesus Christ. May our church have the sensitivity to support and take this ministry forward, and may we learn to listen and communicate with the Deaf, and acknowledge that the disabled are able.

I was impressed with the reverence shown by Reverend Thomas Hudspeth, to those who are in need of knowing the Word, with his manner of communicating, with serenity, spirituality which was clearly distinctive, making me and all the others present too very happy. I take the liberty to congratulate the team for their complicity and fine tuning by which they lectured to us with love and grace. On my part, I would like to express my gratitude for this precious opportunity.

In the same way I had this experience of God´s love, and of my personal encounter with him, many still don´t have this perception. And it is up to us as an example, to develop and carry out the mission that Jesus Christ asks of us.

”When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12)

With the grace of God and his love,

Rev. Kary Janaina S.S Borges

Rev. Borges standing on a platform, she is wearing a pastor's robe with a red stole, and playing a guitar.

See more photos at www.umdeaf/mission/borges.html

News and notes from UMAMD, 9/22/17

 Volunteers and disability (2 articles)

NYT Disability: Nazis' first victims

Disability pride is good for you

"Low expectations" or "presume competence"--a story from the tech world that, with few changes, could be true in (too many) churches:

Breaking Barriers, from CRC disability ministries:

Report from Brazil

Using a microphone:


Click here for a list of events of interest to people in disability ministry.
UMAMD logo with the UM Cross and Flame and several disability symbols
This newsletter is generally issued weekly by the
United Methodist Association of Ministers with Disabilities,
a caucus of the United Methodist Church.

Click here to join this e-mail list.
Visit us on the web or Facebook