The DisAbility Ministries Committee of The United Methodist Church is disappointed that Amendment II has not passed. This amendment to the United Methodist Church’s Constitution would have added the word “ability,” among others, to ¶ 4, Article IV. If this amendment had passed, the last line would now read, “…no conference or other organizational unit of the Church shall be structured so as to exclude any member or any 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.”
Because gender and age were also new to this paragraph, and because “status” was narrowed to marital status only, we believe that the reasons this amendment failed are multiple and perhaps complicated. We do not, therefore, understand these results alone as an indicator that the United Methodist Church does not welcome people with disabilities. We are already planning to petition General Conference 2020 to add this or similar language to that paragraph.
We must add, however, that this defeat is painful for us when we add it to the removal of our committee from The Book of Discipline by General Conference 2016. In 2012 we had been named under UMCOR Health as one of the responsibilities of the General Board of Global Ministries. We have spent many hours and much energy over the past months responding to that deletion, always with the great hope that this amendment would pass, giving support to our work in new ways.
To say we are disappointed is actually a great understatement. Our feelings are both broader and deeper than that. Our work will continue without this official denominational support. We are determined and we are called! We have great plans and we know we are following Jesus Christ, who did not overlook and ignore people with disabilities. He gave them what they needed and restored them to community. We dream of a day when the entire United Methodist Church will follow Christ in this way, bringing healing to hearts and restoration of fellowship to all people, including people of all abilities.
Chair, DisAbility Ministries Committee of The United Methodist Church