Editor's note: Florida Conference churches are encouraged to observe Disability Awareness Sunday on Feb. 7, but congregations can choose another date.
When entering the sanctuary, have you ever looked around to see who is at church that day? I think most of us do.
If we have someone in mind, we tend to look for that person. But, what about looking around to see who isn’t there? Most of us, I expect, do this less often.
Disability Awareness Sunday is observed once a year (sometimes more often) and it is an opportunity to do just that – look around to see who isn’t in worship. It is also a time to acknowledge our need to invite individuals with disabilities and their families to be a part of our worship experience and to be a part of our worship community.
That’s the beginning: Disability Awareness Sunday is more than looking for who is missing. It is also a time of educating and sensitizing parishioners, the church, and our surrounding communities about disability awareness. To most people, that would bring thoughts of the need to remove barriers, which is important, but again, only a beginning. We also need to challenge biases and prejudices, ponder and repent for our complacency on the matter, learn to become advocates, and recognize people with disabilities as a vital part of our faith community.
I love what Jesus said to his disciples in John’s Gospel: “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another" (John 13:35). Observing Disability Awareness Sunday is one way of showing the church’s love (Christ’s love) to people in the disability community.
Click here to read more of this blog. Click here to access resources for Disability Awareness Sunday from the United Methodist DisAbility Ministries Committee and here for resources from the United Methodist Committee on Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Ministries.