Become a place of belonging for everyone. Help people discover their gifts and use them in ministry. These are the goals of Disability Awareness Sunday. By observing Disability Awareness Sunday in your congregation, you take another step toward becoming a place where everybody belongs and everybody serves.
We encourage churches to celebrate Disability Awareness Sunday on the second Sunday in October. In 2020, this date is October 11. Any other time is great too.
Included on this page are suggestions for observing Disability Awareness Sunday, as well as worship resources for planning a service that emphasizes God’s wide, welcome love for all people.
2020 Focus: Practicing and Learning Agility
This year, Disability Concerns is highlighting the important role of agility, both for people with disabilities and even more for churches seeking to create welcoming communities where everybody belongs and everybody serves.
The body of Christ differs in age, ability, gender, ethnicity, race, socioeconomic status, perspectives—and yet we are one body (1 Cor. 12:12). United in Christ, we must develop agility to listen, be curious, learn, and grow in relationship with each other. Agile people move with ease and grace by adapting resourcefully to situations and relationships. Contrary to assumptions, people with disabilities tend to be highly agile, because they must navigate physical and social structures that are created by and for people who do not have disabilities. In this way, we can and often do “dis-able” people from participating in and joining our churches.
Healthy church communities learn from people who have disabilities and provide opportunities for them to lead. Although our differences can challenge us, those differences bless and enrich the way we worship, grow in faith, reach out, and serve each other and our communities. People with disabilities are referred to as having “special needs,” but in the body of Christ there are no “special” needs—just needs. And we all have needs: to be saved from sin, to belong, to love and be loved, to serve, to be held accountable, to use our gifts and receive the gifts of others, to be involved and valued in a church community. When agile, the body of Christ engages each member.
Suggestions for observing Disability Awareness Sunday
Whatever approach your church uses, exercise care to avoid perpetuating disability stereotypes.
- You’ll find an array of prayers, litanies, sermon ideas, and more on the Network, the site that hosts all Disability Concerns resources for the RCA and Christian Reformed Church.
- 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 these gifted worship leaders throughout the year.
- 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.
- 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.
- Complete a church accessibility audit that involves church leaders and people with disabilities. Find ways to make your church as accessible as possible.
Get tools to plan a service that emphasizes God’s wide, welcoming love for all people—including people with disabilities. Or plan a series of services. We’ve got you covered with resources.
- Bulletin insert about agility. (Download this two-sided PDF, which is suitable for printing by your church. Alternately, request copies for your church by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org; include quantity requested, mailing address, and date needed.)
- Presentations on agility from a 2020 leadership gathering. Coming soon!
- Brief videos that work well for Disability Week worship services and other events.
- An announcement slide that can be displayed during worship services. Please use this on October 11, 2020, or whenever your congregation marks Disability Awareness Sunday. The slide is downloadable as a PDF in various sizes: 5.5 x 8.5, 10 x 7.5, and widescreen. Please note: 2020 slides are coming soon.
These images are also downloadable and suitable for projection:
- Disability Week Community.jpg
- Disability Week Everybody Belongs.jpg
- Disability Week Everybody Serves.jpg
- Disability Week Households.jpg
- Disability Week Indispensable.jpg
In addition, we have a variety of worship resources to help you plan a service or series of services that emphasize God’s wide, welcoming love for all people including people, with various disabilities. Check out specific types of resources:
- Sermon or Message
- Lesson or Study
- See more
Questions? Email email@example.com. We’d love to help your church participate!