2010 Annual Meeting
The United Methodist Task Force on Disability Ministries met July 22-24 at the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection in Leawood KS. There were Task Force members present from many of the jurisdictions within the US, as well as representatives from three different agencies: the Committee on Deaf and Hard of Hearing Ministries; the Southeastern Methodist Agency for Rehabilitation and the Association of Ministers with Disabilities.
After a time of covenant building and, of course, fellowship meals, the Task Force took two actions:
- First, to change our name from the UM "National" Task Force to the UM Task Force, in recognition of the global nature of the UMC;
- and to adopt the following Mission Statement: Through advocacy, education and empowerment, the United Methodist National Task Force on Disability Ministries will lead the UMC in creating a culture where people with disabilities are fully included in all aspects of worship, leadership and ministry.
The Task Force had the opportunity to hear from Jennifer Ross, who coordinates Matthew's Ministry at the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection. This ministry reaches out to persons with developmental disabilities and their families. They have created times for worship, an opportunity for employment through a baking program in the church, and offer care for families. We were able to take a tour of the baking program as a catering order for cookies and muffins were prepared.
We heard a report from J. Eric Pridmore, with the assistance of Orson, about the history of disability movements and legislation in the UMC.
Additionally, the Task Force had a call with Bishop Peggy Johnson of the Philadelphia Episcopal Area (Eastern Pennsylvania and Peninsula-Delaware Annual Conferences). Bishop Johnson is leader of the charge for Disability Ministries with the Council of Bishops. The Task Force also engaged in a Skype video call with Rev. Susan Gregg-Schroeder who has pioneered ministries with persons with Mental Illness.
The Task Force has working committees for Capacity Building, Long-Range Planning and Communications. These committees met and brought back reports found below.
The Capacity Building Committee is focused on involving:
The Long Range Planning Committee is giving attention to preparing legislation for the 2012 General Conference. Among other points, the proposals would make Disability Awareness Sunday one of our Special Sundays where offerings would be received for that ministry. Aother would ask each Annual Conference to have a theme on Disability Ministries during each quadrennium.
- People who are already involved with disability ministry and advocacy
- People living with disability who are looking for a church home, an opportunity to offer their gifts, and other resources.
- People who have an interest in disability ministry and advocacy, and would benefit from connecting with folks who are already doing it.
- People who are unaware of the needs and possibilities of disability ministries.
- Other advocacy, education, empowerment groups in the UMC.
- Advocacy, education, and empowerment groups beyond the UMC.
- UMC agencies that can assist us in communication and advocacy efforts.
The Communication Committee will be focused on the following:
- Providing awareness that people are available for training and support
- Providing facts and news about disability, disabling conditions, attitudes about disability and disability advocacy topics
- Providing information on how to handle aggressive behavior; how to teach adults with disabilities; ministry topics; etc.
- Provide advocacy when issues of injustice arise
- Providing information on Federal issues; upcoming legislation; and commenting on voting/records of candidates
- Providing articles about disability specific issues
As we have usually done, the meeting concluded with Communion. This time together serves to remind us of our mission, not only with the community of people with disabilities, or even the United Methodist Church, but the world as a whole. We then began to return to our homes.