"Practice Hospitality" was the biblical focus and mandate at the Widening the Welcome 2012: Inclusion for All conference hosted by UCC Mental Illness Network and UCC Disabilities Ministries. This annual conference seeks to build up our churches to be welcoming and inclusive communities that include people who have been touched by or experienced mental illness, brain disorder or disability—apparent or unapparent. National statistics indicate at least 1 out of 4 families are in some way affected by these experiences.
It was a great conference, and here are just a few of the many ideas, resources and best practices I heard:
• Sunday Companions program at Plymouth UCC in Seattle offers hospitality to those in special need who come on Sunday mornings in search of sanctuary or connection with others. The Rev. Craig Rennebohm from Plymouth spoke on "Practicing Inclusion: Four Practices of Hospitality, Neighboring, Side-by-Side Relationships and Listening."
• Say "Please rise in body or spirit!" instead of "All who are able please stand." Bill Gaventa, Director of Community and Congregational Supports at the Elizabeth M. Boggs Center on Developmental Disabilities at UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, suggested this in his address on "Improving Practice and Preaching through Inclusion."
• Put on your webpage what folks can expect from your facility. How accessible is your church? What would be easy to accomplish? What might be difficult? Scott Lissner, in his workshop on Universal Design encouraged churches to include on their websites pictures or statements about access and whom to contact about access on their websites.
• Churches must not only be welcoming but must also speak out for the rights of all in health care systems, helping persons get access to benefits and learn strategies to do so, according to Jason Hays, in his presentation on “Beyond Disabilities, Diagnoses and Disorders: Prophetic Resistance to the Language of Normalcy."
You can order audio tapes of the many excellent presentations, workshops and messages from this year’s conference. And, check out these good books available from UCC Resources:
Amazing Gifts: Stories of Faith, Disability and Inclusion
Dancing with Disabilities: Opening the World to All God's Children
Marvelously Made: Gratefulness and the Body
Practice hospitality and join the movement for inclusion of all!
Congregational Vitality and Discipleship Team Leader
Is your church interested in electronic giving?
You are invited to a FREE UCC e-giving® webinar on Nov. 14 or Nov. 20. Please send an email with date preference to Doris Powell at firstname.lastname@example.org to receive logon instructions.
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Where Are All the Young People?
Webinar - The Center for Progressive Renewal
Tuesday, November 13 - 8:00pm-9:00pm
Kristina, Lizardy-Hajbi, Facilitator
Where are all the “young people?” Why don’t young adults go to church (anymore)? These are common questions of pastors and congregants. According to several major research studies conducted recently, the answers to these questions may be surprising. This webinar provides an overview of some common characteristics of young adults today, highlights current research as it relates to young adults’ views of religion and church and offer suggestions and cautions for engaging in ministry with this generation. The Rev. Lizardy-Hajbi serves as Minister for Christian Faith Formation Research in the national setting of the UCC.
Mark your calendars! - Upcoming events.
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