UMC Disability Connections is the Prayer Ministry arm of the United Methodist Church’s DisAbility Ministry. Located at http://umdisabilityministries.org, the DisAbility Ministry web site serves as a resource center for the UMC’s developing disability committees and councils across the denomination.
DisAbility Ministry members, both clergy and lay people, offer advocacy, personal experience, and advice to this emerging ministry.
Also of interest is the United Methodist Association of Ministers with Disabilities, to which I belong. UMAMD is a caucus of the United Methodist Church, whose areas of emphasis are advocating, educating, and supporting clergy with disabling conditions. I am particularly proud of the book on which many of us collaborated, Speaking Out: The Gifts of Ministering Undeterred by Disabilities.
The book is available for purchase at Amazon in both print and Kindle editions: http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=speaking+out%3A++the+gifts+on+ministering+undeterred+by+disabilities
As for me, I am a midlife minister. My current life verse is Micah 6:8
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.
I started in the Hispanic Course of Study program at Claremont School of Theology and worked with immigrant families in my local communities, teaching English, preparing INS papers, intervening with sweatshop employers, encouraging children to stay in school, basically helping where I was needed, and teaching Bible studies. I also hosted a bilingual public affairs program on our local cable access channel and wrote a Spanish language devotional for our local newspaper.
During the five years I was in seminary, I was diagnosed with several autoimmune conditions. These diseases, combined with the numerous orthopedic surgeries I had undergone earlier in my life, resulted in my “wings,” my power wheelchair. It wasn’t an easy transition, but when I gave up fighting and realized how much easier (and less painful) my life could be, I was grateful for this miracle of modern technology.
In time I was appointed to a regular church, and they overwhelmed me with their kindness and generosity. Although they were a very small church, with very few resources, they had a special pulpit built to accommodate my chair before I arrived, and made sure the parsonage was ramped. The church was already ramped, and the bathrooms were accessible. I thought every church was like this.
When I was put on medical leave a few years later, I learned differently. The new church I attended didn’t have a ramped entrance, and there was no signage indicating how to find the side door into the sanctuary. When you found it, it wasn’t open, and there was no one there to greet you or hand you a bulletin. And when I mentioned these impediments to people with disabilities who would like to worship, no one seemed to care. So much for a church whose motto is “Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors.”
Like many other United Methodist clergy and lay people, I decided this wasn’t the church Jesus envisioned, a church where the lame and the blind and the leper were welcome. So we like-minded people started searching each other out, and working together, and grass roots ministries are starting and growing. I’ll be sharing some of them with you here on this blog.
To God be the glory!