The Synod’s Disability Task Force plans to have its online resources — designed to assist those with physical and mental disabilities — updated by April so that they can be shared via “flash drive” with this spring’s seminary and deaconess graduates.
“We want to get these into the hands of [church workers] before they reach their congregations so that when they encounter a situation where they need resources for people with disabilities they’ll already have the information available,” said Tracy Quaethem, project coordinator for Life Ministry and Health Ministry with the LCMS Office of National Mission (ONM).
The resources — available free at lcms.org/disability — include:
- “One Body, Many Parts,” a brochure and video that discuss the difficulties faced by those with disabilities and how congregations can welcome them.
- “information sheets” on reaching out to those who are blind or deaf, or have developmental disabilities, mental illness or challenges to their mobility.
- “You Are Not Alone,” a video about assisting those with mental illness and their families.
- an “assessment tool” for congregations that want to start a disabilities ministry.
- a Bible study, “Think About … The Body of Christ,” with guides for leaders and participants.
- “helpful apps” for people with disabilities.
- a list of secular organizations that provide resources for people with disabilities.
- an LCMS speakers bureau.
Another helpful resource on the website, according to Deaconess Dorothy Krans, are two lists — organized by state and by service provided — of LCMS Recognized Service Organizations that offer disability resources. Krans is director of Recognized Service Organizations with the ONM.
New this year, Krans said, “we’re adding hyperlinks so that people can just click directly onto each organization” to get to their respective websites and resources.
That should also make it easier for church workers to find — and refer others — to local Lutheran social-service organizations, she said.
Also new this year, the Disability Task Force is preparing its first-ever survey that will be sent — hopefully, this spring — to all LCMS preschools, elementary schools, high schools and congregations.
“We’re looking for best practices in disability ministry — what our congregations are doing, what our schools are doing, what others could then use as another resource in their own congregations and schools,” explained Krans.
The survey will cover ministries to all disability groups — physical, developmental, intellectual and those with mental-health illness, she said, and will likely ask questions such as: “How do you reach out to people who have a physical disability, or who have mental-health issues, or are hearing or vision impaired — what resources are you using?” “Do you have special programs?” “How do you serve them?”
Krans said she hopes that the survey will bring — along with good ideas and new resources — an “awareness of the needs” of people with disabilities, and what they are able to offer to the church.
“God has so richly blessed all of us,” she added. “He has given all His children special gifts and talents. We all have our own abilities to serve the church and others sharing the love and saving grace of Christ.”
Posted March 26, 2015