Friday, January 29, 2016

News from the UM Association of Ministers with Disabilities, 1/29/16

Announcement: Longmore's book about telethons

Deaf mental health program in Minnesota

Thoughts on sacred space from a guide dog

Helping families with mental illness

New Disability Awareness Sunday materials from Baltimore-Washington Conference

PTSD in disaster victims

January committee chairs conference call minutes:

UM Disability blog: The Letter of your Life

Deaf and Hard of Hearing Ministries January newsletter

Disability and theological education, PDF article

UM Disability blog: Disability Awareness Sunday
          logo with the UM Cross and Flame and several disability
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a caucus of the United Methodist Church.

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Disability Awareness Sunday -- Leo Yates Jr.

Disability Awareness Sunday
By Rev. Leo Yates, Jr.
When entering the sanctuary, have you ever looked around to see who is at church that day? I think most of us do.
If we have someone in mind, we tend to look for that person. But, what about looking around to see who isn’t there? Most of us, I expect, do this less often.
Disability Awareness Sunday is observed once a year (sometimes more often) and it is an opportunity to do just that – look around to see who isn’t in worship. It is also a time to acknowledge our need to invite individuals with disabilities and their families to be a part of our worship experience and to be a part of our worship community. 
That’s the beginning: Disability Awareness Sunday is more than looking for who is missing. It is also a time of educating and sensitizing parishioners, the church, and our surrounding communities about disability awareness. To most people, that would bring thoughts of the need to remove barriers, which is important, but again, only a beginning. We also need to challenge biases and prejudices, ponder and repent for our complacency on the matter, learn to become advocates, and recognize people with disabilities as a vital part of our faith community.
I love what Jesus said to his disciples in John’s Gospel: “by this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another" (John 13:35). Observing Disability Awareness Sunday is one way of showing the church’s love (Christ’s love) to people in the disability community.
Each annual conference is charged to observe Disability Awareness Sunday on an appointed Sunday. In my own Baltimore-Washington Conference, this is February 7, 2016. Some annual conferences follow state disability commissions and observe Disability Awareness Sunday in February or March. Check with your annual conference for your date.
Not sure how to observe it? The Disabilities Committee of The United Methodist Church has a plethora of resources on their website. Look under the picture and you will see that there is a page just for Disability Awareness Sunday materials. The newest of these is the BWC’s Disability Awareness Sunday Church Kit. There are also recommendations from the California-Pacific Conference and the Virginia Conference, among others.
There are also many resources available from the Committee on Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Ministries. One is our e-book, Breaking the Sound Barrier in Your Church. Another is an ASL glossary of church terms, and there are many others, including information on captioning, sound systems, and hearing aids.
My mother has multiple disabilities and my father is Deaf-blind. When I bring them to church, I want to bring them to a house of worship that is accessible and shows hospitality to everyone, especially them. Most of us, I’m sure, feel the same. May this year’s Disability Awareness Sunday bring individuals with disabilities and their families to your church, not just for that day, but help your church to be the place that they can call home. 

 Leo is a member of the United Methodist Committee on Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Ministries, and the United Methodist Association of Ministers with Disabilities.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

The letter of your life -- Diane Mettam

Hello, dear friends.  I’m sorry it’s been so long since I have written.  It’s been a challenging few weeks.  I’ve been fighting more infections, I took a fall off my deck bringing in the bird and squirrel feeders, and family members have been going through some difficult times.  I am weary.

I find as I grow older that the physical resources that allowed me to bounce back from falls and illnesses and emotional crises when I was younger just aren’t there.  Faith and trust in God aren’t enough to bring me bouncing back.  They’re enough to keep me going, but this aging, wounded body needs more time and rest than I’m willing to admit. 

There were lucky breaks, so to speak.  When I fell, I didn’t break anything but my pride.  I fell face first onto river rock, but luckily I was wearing my glasses, and the lenses took the brunt of any facial damage.  And since they were my old prescription, and I was getting my new permanent glasses the following week, there wasn’t much damage done.  I did get some nasty bruises, and my right shoulder is still painful, but all-in-all I am fine.  And a friend from church will be installing a safety railing.

Some of you know I volunteer as an Early Literacy Tutor in a local elementary school.  I’m always looking for good books that are easy to read, beautifully illustrated, and keep my children excited about literature.  I was thrilled to learn about the Schneider Family Book Award, which was established in 2004.  It honors books written about a character with a disability in three different age groups, younger children (ages 0 to 8), middle grades (ages 9 to 13), and teens (ages 14 to 18).

According to the American Library Association, “The definition of disability is very broad. The disability may be physical, mental, or emotional and the person with the disability may be a child or adult, who does not have to be the main character. The character must, however, play a significant role in the story.”  And books are very well-written.  “It is not uncommon for there to be some overlap with other literature awards each year, which emphasizes the Jury's search for well-written, quality literature for young people, just with a slightly different lens. . . If no title is deemed worthy within a category, the Jury can choose not to give an award in that category, as they did in the young child category in 2012. There is, in fact, a scarcity of quality books received for consideration in the birth to 8 category.”

The founder of the award, Dr. Katherine Schneider, is senior psychologist emerita from University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire Counseling Services, who happens to be visually impaired.  “Dr. Schneider often mentions the dearth of books having a character with a disability when she was a child - let alone well-written ones. The Award allows young people with a disability or living with someone with disability to read good literature about characters like themselves.  However, “(j)ust as stories featuring soccer players aren't meant just for soccer players to read, neither are books having a character with a disability. We know reading about something helps the reader understand the people and the situations. Certainly that is part of the intent of the award.”

I have read several of the books and am so excited to share them with my students, and with you.  A list of all the winners can be found at:

I hope you will join me in getting these books into our local church, school and public libraries, and into the hands of young readers. 

“You yourselves are our letter, written on our[a] hearts, to be known and read by all;” 2 Corinthians 3:2

We thank you, Lord, that new minds are opening the doors of possibility for our young people through the wonder of books.  Help us to disseminate these resources in our communities, and be encouragers of all our children, so that they will have open hearts, open minds, and open doors.  Amen.

Friday, January 22, 2016

News from the UM Association of Ministers with Disabilities, 1/22/16

UMCom video about PET mobility project

Bethesda Lutheran Communities Twitter chat, February 4, #BPDMchat

The second edition of The Disability Studies Reader by Lennard Davis is available as a free PDF download:

How can liturgy shape a world?

Mental health as a civil rights issue

Mobility International USA (MIUSA) invites women with disabilities to apply for the 8th International Women’s Institute on Leadership and Disability (WILD). The program will take place from July 30 – August 21, 2016 in Eugene, Oregon, USA.

Stroke survivors

Five things to know about hearing loss