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Disability Awareness Sunday 2005

by Helen R. Neinast

A doormat reads Welcome ALL and features the UM cross and flame and many symbols of various disabilities.
Disability Awareness is celebrated annually in United Methdodist Churches.
Image by: GBGM Communications
Source: GBGM Administration

Adapted from UMC Interpreter Magazine Online

Disability Awareness Sunday is both a celebration and a challenge. We celebrate the lives and witness of those with disabilities who contribute so much to our faith community. We also open ourselves, our churches, and the Church to the call to full inclusion and full accessibility for those with any disability – physical or mental. This is an opportunity to raise awareness and to find solutions to the physical, architectural, communication and attitude barriers to those with disabilities.



| The United Methodist Church Believes | Ideas from the Local Church | Worship Aids | Other Resources |

Some Ideas for the Service

This Sunday, observed annually on a date determined by the Annual Conference, gives your church the chance to challenge its hospitality toward and inclusion of all persons in the life of the church. Ask persons with disabilities to participate in worship as liturgists and leaders in worship. If there are no people with disabilities, this is a good time to examine why that is – is the church open and actively seeking to make itself open to all? You could invite someone who is or works on behalf of persons with disabilities to preach this Sunday.

Set the scene for the worship service.

If it were possible to gather all the people with disabilities into one nation, that nation would number over 650 million women, men and children. That nation would be the world's third largest country, after China and India. (World Health Organization statistic)

That nation would have the least access to education. Many people with disabilities receive little or no education, especially in developing countries. That nation would have the highest unemployment rate in the world and be the poorest nation on earth. It would have the least access to any sort of transportation. And, it would be the least evangelized nation with the lowest proportion involved in a church.

Try to interpret for your church the status of the people with disabilities in the United States and beyond. Go to This site gives an extensive look at statistics and public policy regarding people with disabilities. It will be an important tool for you as you prepare for Disability Awareness Sunday, and it will be important for your congregation as well.

The Book of Discipline 162 G, T (The Social Priniciples) link:
The Book of Resolutions #111, page 314, “The Church and Deaf Ministries” link:
The Book of Resolutions #122, page 345, “The Church and People with Mental, Physical, and/or Psychological Disabilities” Link:

Ideas from the Local Church

Park Street Church in Boston has a Special Needs Ministry that encourages, assists and enables people to participate more fully in church activities. The ministry includes anything from working one-on-one with children during church events to assisting individuals with limited mobility to supporting families of special needs children with occasional childcare or help with housework.


Suggested Hymns

"We Meet You, O Christ" (UM Hymnal 257)
" Through It All" (UMH 507)
" All Hail the Power of Jesus' Name" (UMH 154, Mil Voces Para Celebrar 60)
" It Is Well with My Soul" (UMH 377, Mil Voces 250, Let Us Worship (Korean-English) 304)
" Jesu, Jesu, Fill Us With Your Love" (UMH 432, Mil Voces 288, Let Us Worship, 179)


Genesis 1:26-27 "We are created in God's image"
Mark 2:1-4 "His friends lowered him down through the roof"
I Corinthians 12:22-27 “The body of Christ”
Psalm 103:8, 13-14, 17-18 "The Lord knows our frame"

Sermon Notes

People with disabilities are trying to be included in the life of the faith community. They, too, want recognition of their values as children of God worthy of unconditional love and acceptance.

Hunger, more specifically malnutrition, is the number one cause of disabilities worldwide. Accidents and disease are the leading causes of disabilities in the parts of the world where hunger is not a factor.

However, even if we are fortunate enough to live without material deprivation and with outstanding medical care, all of us face the toll that aging takes. Eyesight, hearing, mobility, memory – these disabilities await most all of us. Disabilities do not know boundaries of age, race, sex or social status. And yet disabilities are the biggest barrier to full participation in our churches. Someone has pointed out that a person in a wheelchair is not disabled in a community or building that has wide doors, slight ramps in place of stairs, and furniture that is wheelchair accessible.

Genesis tells us that we are created in the image of God. Yet we are all different – skin color, personalities, mental and physical capabilities. This passage, then, must refer to something besides the physical. God is spirit, and to be created in the image of God is to have a spirit that is in God's image.

And yet we – like Jesus – are incarnate. It is with our bodies and our minds that we live out our lives. So to have a mind or body that is different is not a judgment on our relationship with God, but is a statement about our humanity.

As we read the Bible, it is clear from beginning to end that God wants to be in a relationship with each and every one of God's creatures. Therefore, it becomes clear that our God is a God of accessibility – to all – and that we therefore must make our churches, and our hearts, accessible to all.


Leader: We come together today as people with different skills, different abilities, different disabilities.
People: We come, however, as one body in Christ.
Leader: We ask God to help us be compassionate toward all, even as God has been compassionate toward us.
People: Gather us together, in compassion and in faith. Help us to welcome and honor everyone in this community.
Leader: Regardless of physical strength and ability,
People: Regardless of differences of mind or spirit,
Leader: Open us, O God. Make us accessible to your Spirit, and accessible to all your people.
All: Amen.


May the God of hope
Fill you with joy and peace
So that you may abound in hope
By the power of the Holy Spirit.
(Adapted from Romans 15)

One Person's Thoughts on Disability Sunday


Date posted: Apr 27, 2005