Disability Awareness Month: Church Service Ideas
Many churches set aside one day a year for a “Disability Awareness Sunday,” an opportunity to raise awareness, inclusion, and engagement of people with disabilities. In the U.S., October is Disability Awareness Month. Consider celebrating the gifts of people with disabilities in October as a church.
There are many ways to celebrate Disability Awareness Month in your church:
- Schedule an adult forum on living with a disability (or a similar topic).
- Offer children a chance to meet a person who is living with a disability that would like to share how they use different forms of communication or transportation in their daily life.
- Plan a worship service, alongside persons with disabilities, themed around God’s love and acceptance of, and purposes for, all people. Encourage the worship leader to consider gathering a few people from your church community who have a disability or parent a child with a disability to talk about what they experience, helpful or hurtful scriptures, life experiences, etc.
- In worship planning, invite people with disabilities to share their gifts in appropriate ways (as liturgists, ushers, communion servers, musicians, preachers, etc.), but do so in a way that avoids putting people with disabilities “on display.” Encourage your pastors and worship leaders to utilize any gifted worship leaders throughout the year.
- Use language that is consistent with how the person sees themselves, and with how God views them (that is, as his children), not language that emphasizes the disabling condition.
- Emphasize that persons with disabilities are made in the image of God and that all are part of the body of Christ, meaning all have value, dignity, and spiritual gifts.
- Complete a church accessibility audit that involves church leaders and people with disabilities. Find ways to make your church as accessible as possible.
- Form a planning committee and target the needs of your local community. Reach out to the community by inviting persons with disabilities and their families to participate in worship and educational offerings.
In whatever approach your church uses, exercise care to avoid perpetuating disability stereotypes.
Everybody Belongs, Serving Together is a collaboration of RCA and CRCNA Disability Concerns, Christian Horizons, and Elim Christian Services.
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