Friday, May 19, 2017

News and Notes from AMD, 5/19/17

UM Disability blog: DMC Faith Development Curriculum released
http://umdisability.blogspot.com/2017/05/faith-development-curriculum-released.html

Creating a culture of accessibility (in a specific tech product, but the principles transfer)
https://blogs.dropbox.com/tech/2017/04/creating-a-culture-of-accessibility/

Is the "yes you can" mentality always best?
http://disabilityhorizons.com/2017/05/is-the-yes-you-can-mentality-always-best/

Clergy mental health
https://medium.com/christian-citizen/clergy-mental-health-30b1f960dac

Out of the shadows (suicide prevention)
https://appalachianpreacher.com/2017/05/13/out-of-the-shadows-the-valley-of-death/

Updated resources on accessible emergency communications
http://www.wirelessrerc.gatech.edu/updated-resources-accessible-emergency-communications
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Thursday, May 18, 2017

Faith Development Curriculum Released

A new faith development curriculum is now available from the Disability Ministries Committee of the United Methodist Church. In twelve lessons, with guidance materials, the lessons are suitable for confirmation classes or general church life classes with teens and adults who have intellectual or developmental disabilities. The lessons can also supplement other classes. Sharon McCart, chair of the committee, states that "barriers to faith development are too often found in complicated language and demanding lessons. This curriculum teaches the concepts of our faith in a way that is adaptable enough for a wide range of ability." 

The lessons include a variety of activities, such as singing, videos, Bible passages, prayer, discussion, and hands-on activities. Although presented in a suggested order for confirmation, each lesson is independent and can be used in sequence, or ordered as needed, or used alone.


The lessons were developed by a team of writers, including Rev. Donna Draeger, Rev. Karen Evenson, Rev. Debbie Hills, Gail Hoffman, Rev. Amanda Larsen, Naomi Mitchum, and Debby Newman. Costs are funded by the General Board of Global Missions. 

The materials may be found at the committee's web site: https://www.umdisabilityministries.org/curriculum/

Faith Development, a series of four vines progressively growing larger, set over the words

Monday, May 8, 2017

May is Mental Health Awareness Month

by Rev. Leo Yates, Jr.

May is known for many observances, but it is also known for Mental Health Awareness Month. In our churches, we often feed the souls of our congregants and visitors, which includes speaking to the whole person: mind, body, and spirit, and this month can reach all of these.

A Huffington Post article from August 2015 lists some eye-opening statistics on mental illness:

  • Half of all adults will suffer from mental illness in their lifetime.
  • Half of all chronic mental illness begins by the age of 14.
  • One in five children will have a mental illness by age 18.
  • Ninety percent of people who die by suicide also had mental illness.

The Commission on Disability Concerns of the Baltimore-Washington Conference recommends that we take the time to raise awareness about mental health. There's no doubt that some in your congregation are or have experienced mental health issues. Part of raising awareness is by acknowledging the struggles folks may be going through (read some of the Psalms written by King David). Also, talking about mental health helps to remove some of the stigma associated with mental illness. In addition, it helps show that they are not alone and others are going through their own struggles too. Speaking about mental health usually comes from a vulnerable place and it takes some risk to even share our personal struggles; however, it is healing in that it helps to reduce or remove any shame associated with it, while lifting up this important subject.

Some ways to observe Mental Health Awareness Month include:

  • Having special prayers. (Here are some resources.)
  • Include some bulletin inserts. (Here are some resources.)
  • Preach one Sunday on one of King David's Psalms or about Jesus' grief when Lazarus died. The point is to normalize mental health, validate what people go through, and see God's love and grace during our struggles.
  • Invite a speaker to share during coffee hour. Topics include: addiction recovery, depression and/or anxiety, dementia, and grief. The speaker can be an expert or give a testimony. Take up a special offering and donate it to a mental health type ministry or charity.
  • Post mental health-related information on the church bulletin board; include suicide prevention information.
  • If you have a resource table, include educational pamphlets or brochures on depression, grief, anxiety, dementia, addiction, suicide prevention, community resources, and so on. (Here are some resources.)
  • Post or link an article or two about mental health on the church website.(Here are some resources.) Or link to the UM Committee on Disability Ministries and Mental Health Ministries.
  • Show a movie on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon, such as Silver Linings Playbook.
  • Read an article about mental health at a youth group gathering, UMW meeting, and/or at an adult Sunday School class. Mention it to parents before reading an article at a youth group. (Here are some resources.)
  • Pray about starting a mental health ministry. (Here is a resource to get you started.)

For more ideas, go to www.mentalhealthministries.net.

As a person who has struggled with anxiety off and on during my life, I know firsthand the importance of maintaining my mental health. Often, we do not want others to know, but it's important we know we are loved, have a place we belong, and are not judged (or criticized) for our struggles. Isolation is often what occurs and we have an opportunity this month to break this trend.

This month, take a Sunday and observe Mental Health Awareness Month. You'll make a difference in someone's or some family's life.

Reference
Gregg-Schroeder, S. (2017). Mental Health Ministries. Retrieved from www.mentalhealthministries.net.

Rev. Leo Yates, Jr. is a provisional deacon serving in the Baltimore-Washington Conference. He is also a licensed clinical professional counselor in the state of Maryland.

Friday, May 5, 2017

News and notes from AMD, 5/5/17

As we approach annual conference season, a reminder about the amendment to Article 4:
http://umdisability.blogspot.com/2017/02/umc-article-4-amendment.html

Most housing discrimination problems are related to disability:
https://nextcity.org/daily/entry/housing-discrimination-us-report

May is Mental Health Month. MHA resources:
http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/may

Over the counter hearing aids
http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2017/04/24/524946910/is-it-time-for-hearing-aids-to-be-sold-over-the-counter

Tapping the power of neurodiversity
https://blog.dol.gov/2017/04/26/all-about-skills-tapping-power-neurodiversity

Updated information: 4th Global Missions Conference of the Deaf
https://www.umcd.org/newsnat/1708.html
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Friday, April 28, 2017

News and Notes from AMD, 4/28/17

Early bird registration for the 4th Global Methodist Missions Conference of the Deaf ends soon! $325 for four days, three nights and meals! Life changing event! Go to llumc.org/4gmd today!

Civil rights, ADA, and the effects of recent and proposed changes:
http://progressive.org/dispatches/how-to-civil-rights-compliance-with-a-27-year-grace-period/

New efforts at healthcare "reform"
http://fvindiana.blogspot.com/2017/04/new-efforts-to-cut-medicaid-and-repeal.html

A book that may interest some of our members:
https://networks.h-net.org/node/4189/reviews/175984/buckingham-newman-writing-disability-critical-history

How language often isolates people with disabilities:
https://www.thinkinclusive.us/the-real-problem-with-disability-is-how-we-think-about-it/

We have long encouraged thought about the role of God in design:
https://www.hearinglikeme.com/the-hottest-hearing-aid-trend-is-a-perfect-fit-for-your-ear/

This effort is also a reminder that the healing stories of the gospels include community restoration and inclusion:
http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/878568

Pastors need care, too:
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp/2017/04/21/who-pastors-the-pastor-even-ministers-suffer-from-suicidal-thoughts/?utm_term=.bd22d7059bff

GBCS on healthcare "reform":
Congress was unable to pass the American Health Care Act (AHCA) because most of them believed it would harm people they represent.

The AHCA would leave 24 million people without health coverage, end Medicaid expansion, and cut Medicaid by $840 billion over 10 years hurting the most vulnerable among us.

The new changes worsen the bill by giving states the ability to eliminate key protections for people with pre-existing conditions, requirements to cover essential healthcare (e.g. pregnancy visits), and allow insurance companies to set lifetime caps and annual limits. A lifetime cap, for example, could limit services people who are recovering from addiction — a journey that is hard fought requiring consistent support.

As United Methodists, we are seeking improvements to current healthcare laws that increase access to affordable, quality healthcare for all. This legislation is moving in the wrong direction.

Call your Representative TODAY and urge them to Vote No.
Guide: https://umc-gbcs.org/content/articles/Health_Care_Talking_Points__Call_instructions.pdf


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Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Deaf Church Celebrating 35 Years


By Rev. Leo Yates, Jr.

Almost a generation after its founding, Magothy United Methodist Church of the Deaf is still going strong. It is one of only two Deaf churches in the United Methodist denomination, and is now celebrating over 35 years as a church.
Magothy began as a missional congregation in 1975. The Deaf congregation was approved and chartered as a church in 1982. Flo Johnson, one of the founding members tells of its inception. "My husband, Ed, and I lived in Pasadena, MD. One of the deaf worship services in the area at that time was at the Baptist Church. We weren't drawn to their tradition. In fact, we quite enjoyed Wesleyan history and Methodist hymns. Most Deaf people do not enjoy music since they do not hear it, but we did. We often led hymns during worship,” says Johnson.
"Magothy has evolved over the decades, which initially served the Deaf and hard of hearing individuals and their families living in Anne Arundel County, to now serving both Deaf and hearing people. In fact, many of the Deaf and hard of hearing individuals attending Magothy Deaf Church are seen serving hearing people in their community, such as assisting with coordination of the church's Door Step Mission (food pantry), making bag lunches for the annual winter relief, through sign language classes for the community, and other ministries. While there is a hearing focus, Magothy still has a deaf focus that includes ministries such as the Deaf Seniors Program and a deaf addiction recovery support group," says Rev. Leo Yates, Jr., a provisional deacon appointed to the church.
“Our Deaf church is very important to my family and I’m thankful it is here for the Deaf community,” says Darlene Koontz, a long-time church leader.
The worship experience caters to both deaf and hearing people, where songs are signed and sung, says Pastor Emily Smiley, the current pastor. "Thirty-five years is a long time for a church and we are grateful to the Baltimore-Washington Conference for financially supporting the church over the years," says Pastor Smiley.
To celebrate this important milestone, Magothy Deaf Church does what many United Methodist churches do: host a potluck lunch after worship. The dinner will be April 29, 2017.
 photo of church from outside, showing a red door and steeple

Friday, April 21, 2017

News and notes from AMD, 4/21/17

Learning to Sing Again (NYT disability feature)
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/19/opinion/learning-to-sing-again.html

Social justice and disability in language
http://harvardmagazine.com/2017/05/social-justice-in-linguistics

UM Disability blog: the body of Christ
http://umdisability.blogspot.com/2017/04/disability-and-body-of-christ-2-broken.html


Fourth Global Mission Conference of the Deaf
http://llumc.org/4gmd


Disability (SSI) isn't easy...
http://www.thegazette.com/subject/opinion/blogs/lynda-waddington/disability-isnt-so-easy-even-for-the-desperate-20170403
--


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Monday, April 10, 2017

Disability and the Body of Christ: 2, the broken body -- Sharon McCart

“This is my body, broken for you,” said Christ to his disciples in the upper room. They had gathered to break bread together, something they had done many times before in different places. But that night was different. He was about to be betrayed, arrested, tried, and put to death.

And so he said, very seriously, very solemnly----“This is my body, broken for you.”

What is it like to think about Jesus walking all over the countryside, up and down hills, through the wilderness and into the city, and then sitting down to a meal, declaring,
“This is my body, broken for you”?

What does it mean, that the body of Christ is broken?

Some of us understand this more deeply, more personally than the rest of us. Some of us have bodies that are sometimes called “broken.” Legs don’t work or arms don’t work, body parts may be missing or atypical. Brain may work differently. Pain may be chronic. Or there may be other differences, and all may be labelled “broken.”

Christ’s body, broken. Our bodies, broken.
This is not how we usually think of Christ’s body being broken for us.
Why is that?

We usually picture the bread, a loaf torn in half. In fact, usually the loaf is pre-cut so it requires only minimal effort to “break the bread” during the sacrament of Holy Communion. What would it be like to watch the pastor struggle and sweat a bit to tear that loaf in two? Would we run out of patience? 

Would we wonder why it is so difficult?

Would we think about the difficulty of breaking an actual body? The strength it took to drive nails through hands, through feet, cracking bones as they went? The strength that ebbed from the body, leading to death?
“This is my body, broken for you!”

Holy Week is a time when the body of Christ becomes very vivid. He sits on a donkey. He turns over tables in the Temple. He sweats blood as he prays in the Garden of Gethsemane, begging God to do something to take him away from the cross. He is whipped. Crown of thorns on his head. And the horrible, cringe-making image of nails in hands and feet, hanging from a cross, being thirsty and finally a spear in his side, ensuring that he is dead. Carried to a tomb, his body limp and helpless.
Such a physical, bodily week!

Christ’s body, broken for us.

For all of us.

Those of us whose bodies are whole. Those of us whose bodies are called “broken.” All are saved by the love of Christ. All are now the Body of Christ.

The Body of Christ is still broken, for us. Broken so that there is room for all of us. Broken so the light and love and grace can both enter and then be shared even further. Broken so that all of us know that Christ has gone through pain and suffering, human like us, sharing our own pain and suffering.

“This is my body, broken for you.”

Receiving the bread during Holy Communion, we are reminded that he became human like us so that we can share in his divineness, having eternal life.

But for now, with our own broken bodies, we can know just how much he loves us, with everything he was----his own body broken. For us.

Sharon McCart, M.Div., is chair of the Disability Ministries Committee



Friday, April 7, 2017

News and notes from UMAMD, 4/7/17

Fourth Global Mission Conference of the Deaf
http://llumc.org/4gmd

Leo Yates jr ponders the story of Lazarus in a new video at the website (ASL and caption)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZuiGXXAX7is

Person first language
https://www.thinkinclusive.us/why-person-first-language-doesnt-always-put-the-person-first/

Awareness: good or problematic?
http://www.rootedinrights.org/why-i-believe-cerebral-palsy-awareness-is-important/

What is missed in disability benefits
https://talkpoverty.org/2017/03/31/washington-post-missed-disability/

Review of Disability Studies 13
http://www.rdsjournal.org/index.php/journal/issue/view/V13i1/showToc

We won't send a newsletter on Good Friday.

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Friday, March 31, 2017

Friday, March 24, 2017

News and Notes from AMD, 3/24/17

UM Disability blog: The Body of Christ
http://umdisability.blogspot.com/2017/03/the-body-of-christ-sharon-mccart.html

NYT disability series: "Cure me? No Thanks"
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/22/opinion/cure-me-no-thanks.html

For those who ask why we push for research and coverage for all:
https://www.gillettechildrens.org/blog/cerebral-palsy-diagnosis-at-80-brings-george-fedor-peace/

DisAbility Ministries newsletter
http://conta.cc/2nVcppa

Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Ministries newsletter
https://www.umdeaf.org/news/

LSA Journal: Caring Connections
http://www.lutheranservices.org/sites/default/files/images/pdfs-CaringConnections/CaringConnections%20January%202017%20Vol%2014%20Issue%201.pdf

Medicare and independent living
http://www.philly.com/philly/health/Disabled-fear-medicaid-cuts-diminish-independence-stateline-pew-anastasia-somoza.html

Medicaid Per Capita caps
http://kff.org/medicare/issue-brief/what-could-a-medicaid-per-capita-cap-mean-for-low-income-people-on-medicare/

The language more beautiful than words
http://www.bbc.com/news/disability-39302109



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Thursday, March 23, 2017

The Body of Christ -- Sharon McCart

Disability and the Body of Christ

This morning I opened an e-mail with the subject line, “Brian Bantum on ‘The Reformation and the human body’.” I opened it because, unlike many other e-mails I get, this one intrigued me. I assumed that it would be about Disability Theology, because that’s where my mind always goes when I read “human body.” That kind of thing happens when you have a passion/obsession the way I do.

It is an interesting article, for sure, but it was not at all what I expected. Bantum made several good points, but reiterating them or responding to them is not the purpose of writing this. I was looking for one thing and found another.

So I am disappointed.

I wanted to learn the connections between Disability Theology and Reformation Theology, if I could. I am always up for learning more about the connections between Disability Theology and other kinds of theology. That didn’t happen. The bodies that Bantum has in mind are not bodies with disabilities. And I find this typical. People have their area of focus and disability is not on their screen.

This happens in theologically-oriented blogs. It happens in social justice movements working for the marginalized, where no one seems to notice that they themselves marginalize people with disabilities. It happens in denominational boards and agencies, where people talk about and embrace diversity and people with disabilities do not come up in the conversations or their lives. A company might be “An equal opportunity employer” but too many times that opportunity is not given to people with disabilities. Churches are many times no more inclusive. Even if every staff member is a different race/ethnicity/age/national origin/first language, they will be surprised if you point out that there are no disabilities represented.

Like I said, it isn’t even on their screen.

I am disappointed. Again.

access ramp leading to steps


This is not the first time, nor will it be the last. And it makes me realize that maybe I am the one to help fill the gap. I am setting a personal goal of writing a regular blog. There are other blogs out there about disability. That is not the gap I am seeing. It is the connections between the Body of Christ (aka the Church) and our bodies that have been swept under the rug.

Time for spring cleaning under that rug.


Sharon McCart, M.Div.
March 21, 2017
 Sharon McCart is chair of the Disability Ministries Committee. 

Friday, March 17, 2017

News and notes from UMAMD, 3/17/17

 Health care and daily life
https://ourlifeis.com/2017/03/10/dear-ivanka-lets-talk-about-the-ahca/

The Arc statement on AHCA
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/how-the-ahca-poses-a-threat-to-people-with-disabilities_us_58cacc52e4b0e0d348b34134

Not Dead Yet on health care
http://notdeadyet.org/2017/03/ndy-in-national-disability-leadership-alliance-opposing-cuts-to-vital-healthcare.html

Per capita caps on Medicaid:
http://www.thismess.net/2017/03/resources-medicaid-per-capita-caps.html

NDRN on changes to ADA
http://ndrn.org/en/public-policy/ada-a-civil-rights.html

Words matter: fighting the stigma
http://www.dallasnews.com/life/healthy-living/2017/03/06/words-matter-fighting-stigmaof-mental-illness

Creating sign language books
http://bookcreator.com/2014/12/creating-sign-language-books-book-creator/

Spirituality and trauma
https://qz.com/606564/psychologists-have-found-that-a-spiritual-outlook-makes-humans-universally-more-resilient-to-trauma/

Reasons to sign when HOH ...
https://ondeafness.com/2016/09/12/14-reason-to-sign-to-your-hard-of-hearing-or-cochlear-implanted-child/



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Friday, March 10, 2017

News and notes from AMD, 3/10/17

Disabled student safety in crisis
http://www.friendshipcircle.org/blog/2017/03/06/keeping-students-with-disabilities-safe-in-lockdowns-evacuations-and-other-school-crises/

The privilege of mental health
http://johnpavlovitz.com/2016/07/05/the-privilege-of-mental-health/

Advocacy/ awareness: IRS scam reaches VR
https://www.irs.gov/uac/irs-warns-of-video-relay-scam-targeting-deaf-and-hard-of-hearing

Advocacy: GBCS on health care
https://umc-gbcs.org/faith-in-action/health-care-is-a-basic-human-right

Advocacy: AAPD on health care
http://www.aapd.com/action-alert-tell-congress-to-save-healthcare-provisions-that-are-essential-to-people-with-disabilities/

DHM website features Lenten devotions and ASL glossary
https://www.umdeaf.org/

4th global Methodist missions conference of the Deaf
http://llumc.org/4gmd
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Click here for a list of events of interest to people in disability ministry.
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Friday, March 3, 2017

News and notes from AMD, 3/3/17

What if...
http://www.keyministry.org/church4everychild/2017/2/20/what-if-this-were-your-lead-pastor

Stigma quiz (you do not need to enter name or e-mail to complete it)
http://letsthinkagain.org/stigma-quiz/

Not Dead Yet: suicide
http://notdeadyet.org/2017/02/anita-cameron-the-disability-perspective.html

Health care and disability
http://brokenandchosen.blogspot.com/

4th Global Missions Conference of the Deaf
https://www.umcd.org/newsnat/1708.html

Advocacy: Easterseals on healthcare
http://www.capwiz.com/easterseals/issues/alert/?alertid=75771626&type=CO



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Friday, February 24, 2017

News and notes from AMD, 2/24/17

"Can you read my lips": a captioned video that demonstrates what it's like to be Deaf
https://vimeo.com/148127830

Putting faith to work: helping people with disabilities find employment
https://medium.com/christian-citizen/putting-faith-to-work-helping-people-with-disabilities-find-meaningful-employment-b9958b62d5fd#.bgc8ysb1x

Positivity Only movement and disabilities
http://www.rootedinrights.org/how-the-positivity-only-movement-has-a-negative-impact-on-the-disability-community/

Accessibility isn't a problem only at conferences. We are grateful to the Disability Ministries Committee for providing guidelines for inclusion.
https://stephenkuusisto.com/2017/02/13/the-awp-and-disability-inclusion-2/

Standing Up for what I Need (is it the same in preaching?)
https://mobile.nytimes.com/2017/02/22/opinion/standing-up-for-what-i-need.html

It's time to retire "able-bodied"
https://laurensmithdonohoe.com/2017/02/19/its-time-to-retire-able-bodied/

Laura Bratton, who spoke to the AMD last year, has written a book about her life story of being born sighted and then becoming blind as a teenager. The theme of the book is overcoming adversity with grit and gratitude. The goal for the book is to empower people  facing challenges to continue living a full life with meaning and purpose.
http://www.ubiglobal.org/book/
--


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Friday, February 17, 2017

News and notes from AMD, 2/17/17

GCORR: increasing equity
http://www.gcorr.org/4-ways-to-increase-equity-for-all-physical-and-mental-abilities/

Inclusion is not a luxury
http://www.disabilityandfaith.org/inclusion-is-not-a-luxury/

America's new ministers (could this open door for disabilities?)
http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Society/2017/0206/America-s-new-ministers

Journal of Literary and Cultural Disability Studies 8 (open access)
Catherine Willits, The Obfuscation of Bodily Sight in Julian of Norwich
http://online.liverpooluniversitypress.co.uk/doi/abs/10.3828/jlcds.2014.6

UM Disability blog: UMC article 4 amendment
http://umdisability.blogspot.com/2017/02/umc-article-4-amendment.html

Advocacy: AAPD on ACA and Medicaid
http://www.aapd.com/take-action-to-prevent-gutting-of-the-aca-and-medicaid/


CFP: Pedagogy and Disability
The Journal of Religion and Disability is planning a special issue on Pedagogy and Disability to appear in October 2017. Our guest editors for this issue are Dr. Meghan Henning (University of Dayton) and Dr. Kirk VanGilder (Gallaudet University).

We are seeking submissions for this issue from scholars who have researched and presented in this area. This special issue will focus on a broad range of issues related to pedagogy and disability including, but not limited to;

• Universal classroom design for physical space,
• Universal design principles for teaching activities and classroom conduct,
• Integrating disability studies content into the curriculum of various disciplines,
• Developing disability studies courses and programs,
• Strategies for teaching with a disability,
• Inclusive pedagogy for learners with disabilities.
• Experiencing religious studies/theology classrooms as a student with a disability
• Technology and teaching strategies
• Online teaching and disability inclusion
• Implementing experiential or community engaged learning and the disability studies classroom
• Developing graduate level courses around disability, the body, and religion and or practical ministry
• Pedagogy that engages more than one learning style
• Integrating content on the body and healthcare into the curriculum of various disciplines

We are looking for submissions in the range of 5000 words in length. Submissions should be received by July 15, 2017.

Send your submissions to mhenning2@dayton.edu and kirk.vangilder@gallaudet.edu

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United Methodist Association of Ministers with Disabilities,
a caucus of the United Methodist Church.

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Wednesday, February 15, 2017

UMC Article 4 Amendment

This year, Annual and Central conferences of the UMC will be voting on an amendment to Article 4, Paragraph 4 of the constitution. Through the Commission on Status and Role of Women we offer the following information about the amendment, and, in particular, its effect on people with disabilities.

Note that the vote will be yes / no. No amendments to the proposal are allowed.

The proposed amendment regarding membership reads as follows:
In the United Methodist Church, no conference or other organizational unit of the Church shall be structured so as to exclude any member or constituent body of the Church because of race, color, national origin, ability or economic condition, nor shall any member be denied access to an equal place in the life, worship, and governance of the Church because of race, color, gender, national origin, ability, age, marital status, or economic condition.

What do these changes mean?

  • ABILITY: adds ability to the list of categories constitutionally protected from exclusion in the Church; the Church cannot discriminate based on a person’s physical or mental circumstances. Adding this word to “The Constitution” means that a person may not be denied membership privileges based on their abilities or limitations (abilities are God-given gifts vs. skills which are learned behaviors).
  • GENDER: adds gender to the list of categories constitutionally protected from exclusion in the Church; the Church cannot discriminate against a person because they are male or female. Throughout The Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church, gender is used when addressing fair treatment of both men and women; this language is consistent with The Discipline.
  • AGE: adds age to the list of categories constitutionally protected from exclusion in the Church; the Church cannot discriminate based on a person’s age, particularly the very young and the very old. Reminds us that the Church is a multi-generational community; all ages are important.
  • MARITAL STATUS: defines status as “marital status”, adding it to the list of categories constitutionally protected from exclusion in the Church; the Church cannot discriminate against a people because they are single or married. These words prevent unfair treatment of a person based on their marital status.
  • *Note: this amendment is not about transgender, homosexuality or polygamy.

If you have any questions, please contact the General Commission on the Status and Role of Women, United Methodist Women, the General Commission on Discipleship, or the DisAbility Ministries Committee of The United Methodist Church

A captioned video is available with succinct explanations and illustrations.

Friday, February 10, 2017

News and notes from AMD, 2/10/17

UM Disability blog: Deaf Ministry
http://umdisability.blogspot.com/2017/02/deaf-ministry-making-new-connections.html

What's behind Americans' hearing loss (uncaptioned video)
http://www.cbsnews.com/videos/whats-behind-americans-hearing-loss/

Theology, Bible, and Disability overview
http://www.catalystresources.org/theology-bible-and-disability-an-overview/

Loving or persecuting?
http://disabledchristianity.blogspot.com/2017/02/are-we-loving-or-persecuting-jesus.html

Autism care and race
http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/children-color-autism-face-disparities-care-isolation/

Not Dead Yet Day of Mourning (March 1)
http://notdeadyet.org/2017/02/national-day-of-mourning-march-1st.html

Advocacy: marriage penalty for people with disabilities
https://www.change.org/p/wyoming-governor-remove-the-penalty-that-prevents-people-with-disabilities-from-marrying#petition-letter

Miriam Spies,  a minister of the United Church of Canada, is conducting research about ministers with disabilities and their congregations. If you are interested in helping, contact at miriam.spies@gmail.com.

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.

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Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Deaf Ministry: Making New Connections

Deaf Ministry: Making New Connections
By Rev. Leo Yates, Jr.

WHAT? WHO’S MISSING FROM OUR PEWS? The Jones and the Smith families are here. It's the Deaf and hard of hearing people that are missing.  

When we, as concerned viewers seeking inclusion take a careful look around the sanctuary, we’ll likely realize that Deaf, hard of hearing, late-deafened, and Deafblind people are the ones missing. We try to be faithful to the mission of The United Methodist Church (UMC), which is to make disciples for transformation of the world; however, this has been a challenge for many of our churches, as many of us have been losing members. Thinking strategically, we need to be thinking outside the box in order to turn this trend around. Reaching out to new populations that will bring new vitality and focus to the faith community is needed. And we don’t have to go far: many churches may have a Deaf community on their doorsteps and not even realize it. According to an older National Council of Churches report (1997), approximately 10% of Deaf people go to church, while obviously many more feel the church doors are partially or completely closed to them.  

Deaf ministry is an umbrella term for being in ministry with or being inclusive of Deaf, hard of hearing, late-deafened, and Deafblind people and their families. Some of us likely realize that Deaf people have their own culture that is made up of values, beliefs, similar experiences, and a shared sign language that takes part within a Deaf community. When one sees a capital “D” in the word Deaf, it indicates the cultural aspect of the word deaf. Historically, the church has been an extended community for Deaf people, in particular, in the mid to late-nineteenth to the mid-twentieth century. The church is where Deaf people would gather for social gatherings, worship, and for missional reasons. Though this community has lost numbers, it is still occurring in some areas of The United Methodist Church, such as Pasadena, Maryland, Dallas, Texas, and Shreveport, Louisiana.

When one considers reaching out to the Deaf community, it's necessary to identify what your church's motives are. For example, having a paternalistic motive is unhealthy and is usually a red flag that will drive away Deaf and hard of hearing people. An all-too-common example of this is not seeing Deaf people as equals, but as a group of outsiders to be converted and ministered to. On the other hand, a genuine desire to be inclusive with an equal opportunity to be a part of the life of the church, an opportunity that would reach beyond coming to worship on Sundays, is a far more desirable reason to reach out.

A Wesleyan approach to community building is to do what John Wesley, the father of the Methodist movement, did—go to the people. This would include learning about Deaf culture by attending Deaf events in the community, learning the (sign) language, and realizing that not all Deaf people are the same. Remember, it's about building genuine, loving relationships, not saving souls (the Lord does this). Mark 7:31-37 describes Jesus healing a Deaf man. In this story, Jesus uses the word, “Ephphatha” that is, “Be opened” (v. 34). Who is to say that Jesus wasn’t actually speaking to the deaf man’s community and telling them (and us) to “Be opened” to this man and include him in their community. For our congregations, perhaps 1 or 2 deaf or hard of hearing people is who we'll have as well. And, that's okay.

The General Board of General Ministries (GBGM) has a Deaf and Hard of Hearing Ministry committee that offers ministry ideas, grants, and consultation to churches. Also, the United Methodist Congress of the Deaf has jurisdictional leaders who can also offer suggestions and possible resources.

In the book, Deaf Ministry: Ministry Models for Expanding the Kingdom of God (2015), the author recommends using a multicultural framework when growing one's congregation that honors each other's culture within the same faith community (Zuniga, Nagada, & Sevig, 2002). Suggestions include:
1. Sustained communication: explore and develop empathetic connections, and find strength and value in each other's perspectives. Each language group must have equal access to communication (e.g., having interpreters, assisted listening devices, and/or captioning).
2. Consciousness raising: encourage individuals to recognize, question, and broaden cultural understanding from various cultural groups (e.g., sharing cultural norms without oppressing the other cultural group).
3. Bridging of differences: build connections across differences and have a commitment to social justice. It's about building understanding and collaborative ties (e.g., having different cultural expressions within worship).
4. Social justice perspective: maintain a social justice perspective that fosters conversations between various social groups, including periodic reflection (e.g., have a social justice committee that connects to the annual conference board of church and society).
5. Faith: include God in interactions; this would include incorporating moments of grace that assist the church's relationship with God to be the primary focus, not the only focus, but the primary focus (read John 15:17).

There are a number of recommendations for how to begin a Deaf ministry.
1. Prayer: ask God for guidance on what type of Deaf ministry your church should do. Deaf ministry is more expansive than worship on Sundays.
2. Enlist leadership support: having the pastor's support will often help get ministries off the ground.
3. Gather a team: a team is the heart of a successful ministry.
4. Begin small: begin with the people and resources God has provided. Perhaps some fundraising is needed in order to pay a sign language interpreter or to hire a Deaf person to teach a sign language class. 
5. Educate the team and congregation: hold a study about Deaf ministry that may include the book Deaf Ministry: Make a Joyful Silence or invite a Deaf person(s) to teach your team sign language (be willing to pay the person for their time).
6. Include Deaf people into the church: include them in leading worship (e.g. leading the congregation in the Lord's Prayer).
7. Adjust as the ministry grows: re-evaluate the ministry periodically and adjust it where it needs to be adjusted.

Perhaps your church already has a Deaf ministry. Wonderful! Perhaps you're looking for ways to expand it. Suggestions for this include:
1. Include your Deaf ministry on your church's website.
2. Offer a sign language class so several or many people can be familiar with basic conversational phrases (Deaf and hard of hearing people want to talk to more than just the interpreter).
3. Teach the church greeters and/or ushers basic sign phrases (e.g. Welcome, good morning, happy you're here, and bathroom).
4. Work closely with a nearby college ASL program and offer silent dinners at your church.
5. Invite a Deaf choir or a signing choir to perform during worship.
6. Do an outreach ministry by extending your church's hospitality to the community (e.g. bring meals to a habilitative day program in the area or adopt a group home with people with disabilities).
7. Connect to your state or local government Deaf agency. Some have newsletters or email announcements.
8. Subscribe to other Deaf ministries' newsletters so you can be included in any news and stay informed of any locally-held events.
9. Revamp the church's newsletter to include Deaf-related articles (e.g. an article about hearing screenings).
10. Do an outreach to the Alexander Graham Bell Association chapter, or a similar group, in your state that might include providing baked goods and drinks at their chapter meetings. There are MANY hard of hearing and late-deafened people (those who lost their hearing later in life) in everyone's community. Not all hard of hearing people and late-deafened people are a part of the Deaf community. But, that's okay! Some use sign language, while others do not.

There are many more possibilities than just these ideas; what's important is to begin with prayer and see what vision God has for your faith community. Deaf ministry is about rethinking what the church can offer and how it can connect to Deaf and hard of hearing people in your community.


Reference
Zuniga, X., Nagaa, B.R.,& Sevig, T.D. (2002). Intergroup dialogues: An educational model for cultivating engagement across differences. Equity and Excellence in Education, 7-17.

About the writer: Rev. Leo Yates, Jr. is a provisional deacon serving in the Baltimore Washington Conference. He serves on the United Methodist Committee on Deaf and Hard of Hearing Ministries.

Friday, February 3, 2017

News and notes from AMD, 2/3/17

"The Universal Benefits of Disability Culture" from the Longmore Institute. PDF.
https://longmoreinstitute.files.wordpress.com/2017/01/disability_culture_thespecialedge_fall-winter2017.pdf

Stigma, mental health in first responders
https://www.firerescue1.com/fire-chief/articles/188263018-Why-firefighter-mental-healths-top-enemy-is-stigma/

Venus, Mars, and hearing loss
https://katherinebouton.com/2017/01/27/venus-mars-and-hearing-loss/

Think Inclusive: Disabled and loved by God
http://www.thinkinclusive.us/disabled-and-loved-by-god-in-an-ableist-world/

UM Disability blog: Walking on Water
http://umdisability.blogspot.com/2017/01/walking-on-water-jonathan-campbell.html

UM Disability blog: (followup) conversation with representative's office
http://umdisability.blogspot.com/2017/02/reflections-on-conversation-beth-dehoff.html

R-word day tool kit
http://www.r-word.org/r-word-resources.aspx

AAIDD opens nominations for Henri Nouwen Award:
http://www.aaiddreligion.org/conference/henri-nouwen-award/about-award

Advocacy: Accessible Instructional Materials in Higher Education Act
https://www.change.org/p/united-states-congress-remove-barriers-to-classroom-equality-ensure-accessibility-of-instructional-materials


--

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.

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Visit us on the web or Facebook.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Reflections on a conversation -- Beth DeHoff


In a previous post, Beth DeHoff shared a letter she sent to her representative about health care and insurance. Today, she writes about the meeting which came about from that letter. 

(A reminder: the UMC identifies health care as a basic human right and advocates for universal coverage.)

I was describing the devastating effects that blanket repeal of the ACA and block granting Medicaid would have on my family and son to my congressman's staff member today. We carry insurance on our son. Medicaid is only secondary. But it allows for us not to be bankrupted by co-pays, deductibles and uncovered expenses as we nearly were before Kyle got his waiver. Likewise, without the ACA, Kyle hits his lifetime max quickly and loses insurance, and can't find other insurance due to significant pre-existing conditions. A block grant of Medicaid cuts funding; if he loses his Medicaid waiver, he loses his nursing care after school and one of us, his parents, loses our job to care for him.
photo of Beth's son, Kyle

I told this staff member all this and told him most families of children of any age with disabilities depend on these programs to function, to work, and to not depend on welfare, but that most of us simply cannot afford to lose these supports and stay afloat. He said there are probably some families in that position. I said no, not some, most. I said unless you happen to have a lot of money going into your life with your child with disabilities, you cannot make it without supports. Cutting these programs threatens kids' lives and families' livelihood.

My congressman's staff member said my congressman, Todd Rokita, is primarily concerned with controlling the federal deficit and needs to see how health care can address these needs while saving money or remaining budget neutral. The thing is, all these folks with health care needs without insurance will have desperate families, showing up at ERs without insurance or the means to pay. Health care costs will rise. Premiums will rise. Programs like food stamps and WIC will see more clients, more demand.

I can make the fiscal arguments. I can remain open to better solutions. I can not care what they call it or who takes credit for it if they can figure out a truly "better way." I sincerely hope Rep. Rokita and his colleagues can be open to the additional information I'll send, and truly work for a solution that doesn't tear down but preserves and even builds up public health. If so, I'm happy to help and report their good work. 

What I cannot do is morally justify seeking debt reduction through cuts on health care and coverage, especially not on the backs of children, youth and adults with disabilities, on the backs of senior citizens in long-term care, or on the backs of pregnant women in poverty. Maybe it's easier because these people largely lack a voice. But that's wrong, plain and simple. And no matter the obstacles, I will not give up helping to give my son and others a voice, and to remind my elected officials of the real lives from which they often are so far removed, and the real consequences of their decisions on their most vulnerable constituents.


Beth DeHoff, MPH, works as a family support coordinator in Indianapolis. She is a member of First United Methodist Church in Mooresvile, IN, and co-leader of the Indiana Conference Disability Ministries committee. She has been a member of the UM Disability Ministries Committee and Speedway UMC Special Needs Ministry. Her son Kyle has Down syndrome, autism and is a leukemia survivor.
Reprinted from Broken and Chosen with permission of the author. 

Monday, January 30, 2017

Walking on Water -- Jonathan Campbell

I wanted to share what I spoke about on Sunday (1/29/17) in worship. I was preaching about Peter walking on water and the problem of fear. Below is a portion of my sermon:

A couple of weeks ago, my wife came up to me and said, “I have something to tell you, but I don’t know how exactly.” I braced for impact. She went on to tell me that she recently noticed a lot more people making fun of me in public. I would like to say I was surprised, but as a person with a lifelong disability, I was not. 

I have, over time, come to realize that the individuals who mock others with disabilities do so out of fear. 

They’re afraid because people with disabilities are a reminder of their own mortality. They’re afraid of their own perceived weakness. They’re afraid about how their job, their relationship, and their lives are going wrong. They project that fear on others, often people with disabilities, because it makes them feel better about themselves. However, fear never makes us stronger or better. 

 I know a lot about fear. During elementary school I was severely bullied. I wish I could tell you I always dealt well with the fear and frustration, but I didn’t. For most of my youth I built a wall around myself to keep from being hurt. During the summer before I began middle school I had a growth spurt. When I went to middle school that year I was twenty pounds heavier and over six feet tall. When the first person tried to bully me I turned to violence in retaliation. But, neither of those “solutions” solved the problem. These “solutions” didn’t bridge the wide chasm of misunderstanding between me and my bullies.

We can easily lose ourselves in fear. Countries can also lose themselves in fear. Terrorism is scary, and as a country we must deal with that real problem. But, judging people solely by their religion, race, or national origin won’t make us safe. Like Peter, our actions based in fear, will only exacerbate the problem. 

I doubt I will ever get to have a conversation with those who made fun of me behind my back. If I could, this is what I would like to say to them. I’m more then my disabilities and when you look at me, or any person who is different than you, through the lens of fear you don’t see our humanity. I’m just the guy with the spastic arm and weird limp. You don’t see me as a husband to a beautiful and loving wife or the father of three wonderful boys. You don’t see me as a pastor with two master’s degrees. You don’t see a long suffering Eagles’ fan. You don’t see me! I would like to let them know that the disabilities they made fun of where the things that made me a stronger and a better person. I would tell them about a man named Jacob and how he met God and walked away with a limp. I would talk to them personally, and tell them that their weaknesses are the very things that can make them stronger. 

So, what do we do about our fears? We learn from Jesus. Jesus reached out and rescued Peter when he was gripped by fear. He then reminded Peter that he need not doubt himself or live in fear. We can help each other find the strength not to be controlled by our fear. Unfortunately, sometimes it feels like my default position in life when trouble hits is fear. What can we do to help one another? When you see that I’m facing a situation that is making me fearful you can remind me that fear won’t solve the problem, and I’ll do the same for you.

Jesus calls us to reach out and offer our hand to rescue those living in fear. I hope you will join me in contacting your local and national leaders to remind them we shouldn’t make decisions out of fear and judging people by their race, religion, or national origin won’t keep us safe. We must remember the powerful and true words of 1 John, “There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear.” Through the grace of God may we help each other, our neighbors, and our leaders step out in love and not fear.
Jonathan Campbell is pastor of Old First UMC in West Long Branch, NJ. This is not an official statement; only the General Conference can speak for the UMC.