“During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.” George Orwell

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Model Programs From Various Faith Traditions

In meeting with people from faith groups and denominations, I am often asked about model programs that might be closest to the “state of the art” in terms of including persons with various disabilities. Recent research has also caused me to ask that question, particularly from an various faith perspectives.

What are best practices in the Muslim community, for example, and where might those best practices be observed?
Where is the “state of the art” best evidenced among Mormons?
Where can I go to view model programs within the Jewish community?
Are particular denominations leading the way for the Christian world, and/or what churches are doing a particularly good job?

Additionally, across faith traditions, what “parachurch” organizations (religious organizations that are not necessarily operated within a particular faith tradition), practice models that support the goals of what might be called best secular practices like integration, age appropriateness and functional skill faith development?

If you know of a good program, would you perhaps send me just a name of the particular faith group or program, their location and their website. These names could be sent to me at mail@jeffmcnair.com .
Personally, this information would assist me significantly with work I am currently engaged in.

Thank you so much for your assistance!

Jeff McNair

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

A picture is worth a thousand words

Yesterday, I had a very important meeting with some governmental officials regarding church/disability issues. As I always do when I have things I am concerned about in my life, I took my concerns to my church for prayer. In particular, I take my requests for prayer to our Light & Power group, a group which includes people with various disabilities.

As you look at the picture above, you see a man in need surrounded by loving, caring people who are lifting him up in prayer. It is a powerful image. I could just leave you with that image as what you see is really all that is important. But because I am trying to facilitate the inclusion of devalued people into the church, I will tell you that the tall man in the midst of the group is me. I am not a devalued person by the world's standards. By the world's standards, I might be considered successful because I am educated, have a career and have a home and family.

The people around me have experienced discrimination on a variety of levels because of a characteristic they have that society devalues. They would each be considered "disabled" by society. But look at the picture. Who is in need and who is ministering to the need? Do these characteristics matter in any way when people go before the Lord in prayer? They are blessing, encouraging, benefitting me. I am submitting to their ministry.

These kinds of images need to be more prevalent within the church. If people devalued by society because of a characteristic called disability are not contributing to the edification of others, it is probably because they have not been given the opportunity to do so.

It is our discrimination that distances them.
It is our discrimination that always puts them in the position of being recipients of ministry.
We are the same. To see us as different is not to see them as they are in the picture. It is a contrivance.