The United Methodist Task Force on Disability Ministries

A Place for All:
Faith and Community For Persons With Disabilities

It is a startling number.

According to the CDC, 1 out of 5 Americans has at least one disability. The fact is, we're all going to be disabled one way or another. Time takes care of that. Things happen in life. But how we cope with that disability and how we deal with other people with disabilities - well, that's a choice. A learned response. We need to change attitudes, remove barriers, and create a truly inclusive community.

Our culture tends to not value people with disabilities as whole persons. But the goal, for any religious group, is to help people see with new eyes that people with disabilities are truly valuable and have skills and abilities that enhance the faith community. ~ Bishop Peggy Johnson

A Place for All: Faith and Community for Persons with Disabilities is a unique interfaith documentary, produced in conjunction with the New York Board of Rabbis, with the support of an extraordinary range of faith groups including the National Council of Churches, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), the United Methodist Church, the United Church of Christ and the U.S. Council of Catholic Bishops.

What made Neve Shalom remarkable was not necessarily that they removed the steps or they resurfaced the playground or they lowered the table. It was the attitude that Max was just like every other child and that he belonged doing everything that all the children were doing. There was not one instance where he was excluded because of his disability. If there was going to be an activity that Max couldn't do, it was changed so that he could participate. And that is inclusion. ~ Sheri-Rose Rubin

A Place for All explores the courageous stories of persons with disabilities as they succeed in making their faith communities truly inclusive. It features people such as Rabbi Darby Jared Leigh, a spiritual leader at Congregation Bnai Keshet in New Jersey and one of the handful of deaf rabbis in the world; members of ELCA's DAYLE program where Definitely Abled Youth unite at the 40,000 strong triennial Evangelical Lutheran youth gathering; 5 year old Max Rubin, who suffers from cerebral palsy; Rev. Beth Lockard, pastor of Christ the King Deaf Church; and Brandon Kaplan, a severely disabled boy with limited sight and speech who recently had the privilege of becoming a Bar Mitzvah.

Providing an interpreter, providing a ramp, providing access for people with disabilities isn't making you nice giving these poor people something, it's enriching your own community. If you don't build those things you're depriving yourself. So are you taking care of your own spiritual needs or are you missing a really important piece of the picture? ~ Rabbi Darby Jared Leigh

Interviews with leaders of faith groups include: Rabbi Joseph Potasnik, Executive Vice President, New York Board of Rabbis; Bishop Peggy Johnson, United Methodist Church; Rev. Dr. Michael Kinnamon, General Secretary, National Council of Churches; Dr. Ingrid Mattson, President, ISNA; Rev. Bill Gaventa, Director, Community and Congregational Supports at The Boggs Center on Developmental Disabilities, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School; Rev. Bill Bixby, Director, Youth Ministry, ELCA; Imam Mohamed Magid, Executive Director, All Dulles Area Muslim Society; and Rabbi Robert Levine, Senior Rabbi, Congregation Rodeph Sholom, New York.

ABC Stations nationwide began airing the program December 6, 2009 as part of ABC's Vision and Values series, a presentation of the Interfaith Broadcasting Commission.