Tuesday, December 7, 2021

New Resource Available for Disability Awareness Sunday

New Resource Available for Disability Awareness Sunday

By Rev. Leo Yates, Jr.

As worship leaders and pastors begin planning their upcoming church year, a new resource is now available from the Commission on Disability Concerns of the Baltimore-Washington Conference (BWC). This will assist congregations in fulfilling The Book of Discipline’s requirement that each annual conference designate a Sunday to observe Disability Awareness Sunday. In the BWC, the first Sunday of February is designated as Disability Awareness Sunday, although if another fits their calendar, that is permissible.

An African American family attending church with the father being in a wheelchair.

To provide congregations with resources, the disability commission created new liturgy. This was done not only to update existing resources, but to encourage congregations to observe Disability Awareness Sunday. The liturgy and references can be found as a Google Doc. This link is also available with related resources from the Disability Ministries Committee worship services page

The liturgy can also be adapted for a Deaf Awareness Sunday, which is typically held the last Sunday in September or on another Sunday near a deaf-related observance. Although we always recommend including people with disabilities or who are Deaf, hard of hearing, and/or Deafblind to participate in leading the worship, these events are an especially good time to do that. Along with the inclusion of bulletin inserts for a Deaf awareness service, planning can also include Deaf awareness activities.

Rev. Leo Yates signing at a Disability Awareness Sunday

Rev. Nancy Webb, a retired elder of the BWC, coordinated the effort to create new liturgy. Rev. Webb worked with both Rev. Mary Johnson (retired elder) and Rev. Leo Yates (deacon in full connection) to draft new liturgy, as well as to include resources such as hyperlinks to websites, alternative materials, and additional recommendations for consideration. "We're so excited to be able to share the new liturgy. It even includes litanies, suggested Scripture readings, as well as a list of sermon ideas. I'm thankful to Rev. Mary and Rev. Leo for putting this together," said Webb.

Yvonne Caughman, a Certified Lay Minister and the chairperson for the disability commission commended the new resource. Caughman shared, "I love the new resource. We need to get this out there to pastors."

An African American woman preaching from a church pulpit.

This new liturgy gains more meaning and relevance as it was created by persons with disabilities. It is a welcome addition to the disability commission's other resources and those from the Disability Ministries Committee.

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* Rev. Leo Yates is deacon serving in the Baltimore-Washington Conference as the Accessibility & Inclusion Coordinator. He can be reached at lyates@bwcumc.org.

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