Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Seminary Students Learn Overdose Prevention for Future Ministry

Seminary Students Learn Overdose Prevention for Future Ministry
By Rev. Leo Yates, Jr.

"How long do you have to wait before you can administer a second dose?" and "Does it hurt them if it wasn't an overdose?" are just a couple of many questions asked by students from Wesley Theological Seminary in the Pastoral Care and Counseling course, Addiction Recovery Ministry. Most of us have heard about opioid overdoses and the results. This class provided instruction for pastors and similar caregivers on how to handle such situations. Students heard personal stories of opioid addiction and about parents' worries about teen or family members overdose problems. 

Two people at a table, working on a relapse prevention plan
[Two students drafting a relapse prevention plan]

Students also learned how to prepare for such occurrences. "Every church should have Narcan (a nasal spray that can counteract an overdose), because it can save lives if administered in time." This need is part of the community context for many clergy, as pastoral care is often given for church members and those who are served by the ministry programs at some churches.

Narcan can also be given to the parents who express concern about their family member's drug use, or at least be given a coupon to take to a pharmacy in order to purchase the medication. Students learned that some local health departments carry the life-saving medication and that referrals can be shared with the parents. In some states, Naloxone, the generic version, is sometimes available through the mail, for free. Contact Naloxoneforall.org for information. Also, check here for a list of states that permit distribution by mail. 

Students also received instruction about what signs to look for when it comes to opioid overdose, such as eyes rolling back, bluish lips or fingernails (due to the lack of oxygen), and being sedated (sleepy). In addition, when calling 911 for a suspected overdose, it is sometimes best to state that the person is unresponsive rather than assuming that they are having a possible overdose. Church leaders, particularly those who lead Bible studies or youth groups, who oversee food pantries, and the like, along with others are encouraged to participate in annual or bi-annual trainings, which can be as simple as overdose prevention education that explains what opioid emergencies look like.

Several students in groups of two, sitting at tables, listing addiction signs
[Students listing signs of addiction]

While some people receive Narcan or Naloxone in time, the unfortunate reality is many do not.  83% of opioid-related deaths are accidental. According to the makers of Narcan, mainstream America is at risk, as 60 million Americans received an opioid prescription in 2016. Click here to read more recent overdose statistics by state.

Another aspect to opioid, heroin, or fentanyl overdoses (deaths) is the grief and loss that occurs. With this in mind, a funeral director addressed the class as a guest speaker to share insights about funerals related to overdoses. Pastoral and congregational care was emphasized in class discussions. Students also practiced pastoral care skills in mock scenarios. Along with these, overdose aftercare (for overdose survivors) and having raw conversations are needed (e.g. do not use alone or behind locked doors). These may involve the survivor directly, as well as parents or other family members.
Two people at corner tables face each other and talk about an assignment
[Two students discussing an assignment]
Encouraging faith communities to become recovery churches sometimes begins with the pastor or minister. These seminary students are learning this through their in-class conversations, their studies, and their class paper. While August 31st is International Overdose Prevention Day and September is National Recovery Month, these needs can be observed any day of the year and done often. 
Instructor in foreground, students standing behind tables in a group portrait
[Image Description: Students and their professor posing for a class selfie.]

Rev. Leo Yates, Jr., LCPC 
Consultant, Global Ministries United Methodist Committee on Deaf and Hard of Hearing Ministries
Secretary, Council of Bishops DisAbility Ministries Committee
Secretary, Baltimore-Washington Area Reconciling United Methodists
Associate Pastor, Emmanuel United Methodist Church

Friday, September 13, 2019

News and notes from AMD, 13 September 2019


Here are the highlights of postings this week from the Association of Ministers with Disabilities, Disability Ministries Committee, Mental Health Ministries, Deaf and Hard-of-hearing Ministries Committee, and UM Congress of the Deaf:

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AMD
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DHM/UMCD
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DMC
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MHM
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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.
This newsletter is also published on the UM Disability Blog
Visit us on the web or Facebook.

Friday, September 6, 2019

News and notes from AMD, 6 Sept 2019


Here are the highlights of postings this week from the Association of Ministers with Disabilities, Disability Ministries Committee, Mental Health Ministries, Deaf and Hard-of-hearing Ministries Committee, and UM Congress of the Deaf:
-
AMD
-
DHM/UMCD
-
DMC
-
MHM
-
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.
This newsletter is also published on the UM Disability Blog
Visit us on the web or Facebook.

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Inviting Deaf and Hard of Hearing People to Church - Deaf Awareness Week



Inviting Deaf and Hard of Hearing People to Church - Deaf Awareness Week
By Rev. Leo Yates, Jr.

Deaf Awareness Week is soon approaching, and United Methodist churches should extend their hand of welcome to Deaf, hard-of-hearing, late-deafened, and Deafblind persons in their community. This week is observed during the last week of September (in 2019, the 23-29th), beginning on Monday and ending on Sunday. Deaf Awareness Week originated in Rome, Italy in 1958 through the efforts of The World Federation of the Deaf. Deaf communities around the world began adopting this international observance as a way to honor the history and heritage of Deaf and hard of hearing people, affirm diversity, to educate society about deafness, and celebrate Deaf culture. 

Historically, Deaf ministries have been an extension of their Deaf community, in part, due to their support of Deaf education and mission. For instance, during the mid-nineteenth century, The Episcopal Church ordained its first Deaf deacon in the U.S. The Methodist Church was the fourth denomination to have a Deaf pastor to serve a Deaf congregation in Chicago, which was close to the turn of the 20th century. Click here for a brief outline of Deaf Christian history and click here for a more comprehensive account. 

Communication barriers and cultural differences often exclude Deaf and hard of hearing persons from the life of the church. For example, when this writer's Deaf parents moved from Maryland to Virginia, the fourth church that was contacted agreed to provide a sign language interpreter. Recently, a Deaf couple in the Southeastern Jurisdiction shared they are only able to worship twice a month because their church is unable to afford a sign language interpreter on a weekly basis. In most cases, there is a cost for sign language interpreters. While it's the church's responsibility to hire and pay for interpreters, most Deaf and hard-of-hearing people donate to their congregation, and thus support the cost indirectly (click here for a brief guide about interpreters). One Deaf ministry holds an annual fundraiser to support their interpreting ministry. Certainly, budgeting and prioritizing the Deaf ministry is vital to sustaining it. So is awareness; a cultural difference can be seen during a Christmas Eve service when lights are dimmed and candles used. This makes it challenging to see a sign language interpreter.

The Apostle Paul emphasized to the church in Corinth (and us) that the body of Christ needs all of its members (1 Cor 12:12-31). Like other denominations, The United Methodist Church recognizes the need for Deaf, hard-of-hearing, late-deafened, and Deafblind individuals to be better represented in the life of the church. General Conference continues to support funding for Deaf ministries. This funding is overseen by Global Ministries, which includes small grants to support new Deaf ministries.

Deaf Awareness Week is a strong reminder for churches to be accessible and inviting for Deaf and hard of hearing people. For example, offer captioning (display it on a TV screen or project it with PowerPoint), have all-encompassing bulletins (Scriptures, prayers, announcements, music), use multimedia (Deaf people can't hold hymnals while signing), ensure adequate lighting, and consistently use a sound system during worship: all of these are inexpensive ways to improve accessibility. Click here for more ideas. After all, 1 in 3 persons over 65 have some degree of hearing loss and improving communication access in worship and in the life of the church can support hard-of-hearing and late-deafened people to remain active, some of whom are the bigger givers.

So, how can your church observe Deaf Awareness Week?

As a part of its Disability Ministries, Emmanuel UMC in Laurel, MD, is observing Deaf awareness by offering a month-long sign language class, has a sign language interpreter on most Sundays, uses multimedia, and will include Deaf awareness in its announcements. For activities and ideas, check out the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Ministries Committee's Deaf Awareness Week web page. For general information about Deaf Awareness Week, click here. For a series of brief guides and congregational resources, click here

Rev. Leo Yates, Jr. is the consultant for the Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Ministries Committee. He can be contacted at leoyjr@gmail.com if your church wishes to explore beginning a Deaf ministry and/or wish to subscribe to the committee’s monthly Deaf ministry e-news. Churches will receive a free book, Deaf Ministry: An Introduction to Ministry Models during September.