Wednesday, March 30, 2016

The Voice - March 2016

The March issue of our newsletter, The Voice, is now available. You can read it and subscribe at this page

image of the head of The Voice: disability ministries logo, photo of a platform lift
Topics include Annual Conference Accessibility; Ableism in conference planning; Using captioning; Role of event accessibility coordinator; Resource tool kit for planning accessible meetings and events.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Free(dom) wheeling -- Diane Mettam

I read the saddest prayer request recently.  It said, in part, “__’s son __ took his own life last Saturday.  ___had a bad accident a few years ago and was paralyzed and wheelchair dependent. His anguish is over. . .”

All I could think of was loss:
   loss of someone’s precious son
   loss of the opportunity to minister to this man
   loss of the opportunity to educate him about the possibilities his wheelchair afforded him

And I thought of the wording of this request, “his anguish is over.”  Why does the world regard life in a wheelchair as anguish?  Why are we “wheelchair dependent” and not liberated by our wheelchairs?

I thought back to when I first started using a wheelchair, nearly thirteen years ago.  I was so blessed to have angels who guided me into the process; Lupita and Santiago, who prepared me for life in a wheelchair before I actually got one, and Jill, who modeled life in a wheelchair every day.

When I first realized I might have to live life in a wheelchair, I fought the idea.  I was struggling with a walker, telling myself and everyone around me that it was “temporary.”  The reality was that I was in terrible pain, that I could walk only a few feet before I had to stop and sit and give my back and knees a rest.  At the end of class I had to struggle back to my apartment and rest with ice on my knees and tears in my eyes. 

Santiago and Lupita looked at me and asked, “What if this isn’t temporary?  You need to think about what you will do.”  And they showed me how they arranged their home and did their chores and got around in their wheelchairs.  Santiago drove and had a service dog, two things I hadn’t thought about.  I admired their practicality, and the way they didn’t let anything get in their way, but found a way to work around everything. 

When I got my chair, I realized it was a blessing.  I was no longer in so much pain.  I could get places much faster than I could in a walker.  I used to walk fast, and now I could ride fast!  My friends joked I would get a speeding ticket. 

My friend Jill fought the norms and stereotypes to become a teacher in 1968, despite becoming a quadriplegic following a ski accident.  She was also an artist and philanthropist, raising tens of thousands of dollars for Native American scholarships.  She was also the first person to volunteer for the mentoring program our church started in the 1990s.  She once said, “I never thought of myself as a different person because of the accident.”  She also drove and I’d see her van around town as she did some shopping or sketching.

new access icon with figure leaning forward, actively engaging life in a wheelchair

Perhaps we should consider forming “angel groups” in our churches to welcome new wheelchair users, and others dealing with new disabilities into the fold.  I keep wondering what would have happened to __ if someone had been his angel, his encourager, had helped him into the land of disability and opened his eyes to the new possibilities that awaited him. 

We also need to work on the attitudes of those around us.  I remember comments about my “giving up” or “not praying hard enough,” questions about when I was going to “get better,” many expressions of sympathy for the tragedy that had overtaken my life.  Some assumed I couldn’t continue in ministry.  Many assumed my life was over.  We must change this mindset!

“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.  John 15:12 NRSV

Dear Lord, Help us.  Help us to recognize the pain in others’ hearts, and to reach out in love and understanding.  Help us to share each person’s worth and value, and celebrate their role in our human family.  Each of us has a part to play, has something to give.  Help us lift up and encourage each other to be your servants in this world.  Amen. 

Friday, March 11, 2016

News from UM Association of Ministers with Disabilities, 3/11/16

Disability Studies certificate seeks participants for No Boundaries Project

Moving beyond stigma: understand it first,-We-First-Need-to-Understand?utm_source=social&utm_medium=facebook&utm_campaign=blog

Neglecting a human in front of us

Disability porn -- patterns and typical forms

Paul Longmore's final book, about the culture of telethons and their effect on disability perceptions, is now available.

Why adults delay hearing care (an interesting social vs. medical element here)

Update: Disability Ministries web page on emergency preparedness

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.

Friday, March 4, 2016

News from the UM Association of Ministers with Disabilities, 3/4/16

Rejection and Grace

What does inclusion in the church look like?
and a follow-up, What happens when I get there?

Inspiration porn and the objectification of people with disabilities

National Fire Protection Association newsletter

Mental Illness and the face of Christ

New edition of Disability Statistics Compendium

Able Theology at Fuller

An article from the special issue of Church Health Reader focusing on disability

Friday afternoon fun ... and maybe familiar faces

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.