Friday, September 12, 2008

PC(USA) and Disability

One of the good things about this particular presidential election is that it's drawing attention to disability-related issues. As the parent of a child with special needs, this is an important topic to me. If it's interesting to you, click over to my blog on Monday for a look at the candidates, their platforms, and their political histories with regard to disability rights.

In the meantime, I thought I'd take a look at the way our denomination has addressed individuals with disabilities.

  1. First, there's PHEWA, Presbyterian Health Education and Welfare Association Disability Concerns Consultants. I don't know much about this program, but I think it promising that the denomination is proactive about these issues, rather than reacting to "problems" as they arise. Ahem. No one wants to be a considered a problem.
  2. Creating an Inclusive Community and Bias-Free Guidelines.
  3. Also, research.
  4. Videos, though I failed to find what I was looking for, there.
  5. There are 1410 results when you search for "disability" on the PC(USA) web site. (I wish to note that the site's search results are difficult to wade through.)

In my opinion, the denomination is talking the talk. Walking the walk, however, is not something I believe can be mandated from denominational headquarters or General Assembly resolutions.

Creating an inclusive and truly welcoming community for people with disabilities is the work of each of us, members in local congregations. It will challenge us to move out from our comfort zones, our safety. It might be hard and it might be scary. But it's what we're called to do.

Luke 14:12-24 (New International Version)
12 Then Jesus said to his host, "When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. 13 But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, 14 and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous."
The Parable of the Great Banquet
15 When one of those at the table with him heard this, he said to Jesus, "Blessed is the man who will eat at the feast in the kingdom of God."
16 Jesus replied: "A certain man was preparing a great banquet and invited many guests. 17 At the time of the banquet he sent his servant to tell those who had been invited, 'Come, for everything is now ready.'
18 "But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said, 'I have just bought a field, and I must go and see it. Please excuse me.'
19 "Another said, 'I have just bought five yoke of oxen, and I'm on my way to try them out. Please excuse me.'
20 "Still another said, 'I just got married, so I can't come.'
21 "The servant came back and reported this to his master. Then the owner of the house became angry and ordered his servant, 'Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.'
22 "'Sir,' the servant said, 'what you ordered has been done, but there is still room.'
23 "Then the master told his servant, 'Go out to the roads and country lanes and make them come in, so that my house will be full. 24 I tell you, not one of those men who were invited will get a taste of my banquet.'"


Stushie said...

Important subject, Sarahlynn. Thanks for the internet resources.

I also find the search engine on the PCUSA site terrible to use. I hardly ever find what I'm looking for without having to go through hundreds of irrelevant posts. Most of the time, I just give up and look elsewhere.

RobMonroe said...

If only someone like the moderator was web savvy and read this blog... maybe s/he could make such suggestions in a good way to the web staff at the web office!

We have two members in our presbytery (one elder, one minister) who are putting together a workshop for next spring on making churches more open and friendly for people with disabilities. I'm looking forward to it and really hope that our churches begin to take notice.

One of our churches actually has a group of members with developmental disabilities that meet together a couple of times a week. They are one of the core groups of the church. It's great.

Sarahlynn said...

Rob, that group sounds wonderful. Wonderful!


To improve the search capabilities of the website, I'd love to see a way to filter results, both by file type and by type of file.

For example, searching for image or video files, .pdf, etc.

And also limiting searches to PW/Horizons resources, or official publications of the PCUSA, or minutes of meetings, or newsletters, etc.

The ability to drill down another layer or two within the search results would help immensely.

Reyes-Chow said...

While I would love to say, you ask and I do, this has been in the works for a while in regards to the PC(USA) site. Looks promising.

PC(USA) Website Redesign

Sarahlynn said...

Woo hoo! Thanks for the news.