Build Your Team
This is not just another committee! Taking the time to make sure all of the individuals and families within your congregation and community are invited into a relationship with the church and with God is important! Here is one way to start the conversation around inclusivity of persons with special needs and disabilities in your church!
1. Build Your Team!
It is crucial to have those most affected by disability present at your table as well as persons who have connections with the school system, local health centers and hospitals, agencies and boards that support or educate around disability, and others who bring experience or wisdom.
2. Define Your Vision and Values!
Your vision and values will drive not only the work of the team, but how that work is completed with and by persons most affected by disability. Consider writing a mission or vision statement, creating core values, or list out what a perfect day in ministry with persons with disabilities could look like. Ask questions like, "What does inclusivity look and feel like?", "What barriers exist?", and "What resources, talents, skills, and knowledge have not been tapped into yet?".
3. Take Your Congregation's Pulse
Not every disability is visible or known. Taking a poll or survery of your whole congregation can begin to highlight places where your church can become more welcoming, inclusive, and wholistic in ministry.
4. Take Action and Reassess
Use the results of your survey and conversations to review your team's goals, vision, and values. Begin to take action with small changes. Check back in with the congregation to let them know of changes made, actions to be taken, and ways they can invest in the process. Another way to get feeback is by completing one or more versions of the free accessibility audit made available by the DisAbility Ministries Committee.
Conducting an Accessibility Audit
There are three different ways to complete an audit:
1. The extensive audit helps a church walk through the process of getting to the church building, participating in scheduled events and gatherings, accessing general use spaces (such as restrooms and the Sanctuary), and assessing the attitudinal climate toward persons with differences or disabilities.
2. The mini-audit is available and provides surface information on mostly physical updates that can be completed at the church site.
2. In response to Paragraph 2533 of the Book of Discipline, trustees are charged with the care of the physical church buildings and properties, and thereby have an annual audit to complete.