Magazine article The Exceptional Parent

Welcoming Everyone to Worship in the NEW MILLENNIUM

Magazine article The Exceptional Parent

Welcoming Everyone to Worship in the NEW MILLENNIUM

Article excerpt

National Organization on Disability's Accessible Congregations Campaign


By the 2000 is the Accessible Congregations Campaign slogan. The Campaign is a project sponsored by the Religion and Disability Program of the National Organization on Disability (N.O.D.),and Initiative 2000, a nationwide celebration of the achievements and contributions of people with disabilities. Their goal is to gain the commitment of 2,000 congregations by the year 2000 to include people with all types of disabilities as full and active participants. The Accessible Congregations Campaign is based on the scriptural understanding that all people, with and without disabilities, are created in the image of God, and therefore have an equal right to worship. The way to make this happen is through opening hearts, minds, and doors so that ail may have equal access to participate as a member of a congregation. Congregations of all faiths and all levels of accessibility are welcomed in helping to fulfill this goal.

What exactly is an Accessible Congregation?

An Accessible Congregation acknowledges that it has barriers (both physical and attitudinal) to the full participation of people with disabilities and makes a commitment to removing them. The Campaign asks congregations to make that commitment. Few congregations, if any, have reached the "Promised Land" of access and welcome. Any congregation can join the movement regardless of what stage they are at in the accessibility process--from those newly alert to disability issues to those which have already provided architectural and program accessibility. These congregations are being singled out for their commitment to action, not their achievements. Congregations need not be "perfect;" they only need to set achievable goals and make a commitment to action.

An Accessible Congregation commits to these three principles:

* In our congregation, people with disabilities are valued as individuals, having been created in the image of God.

* Our congregation is endeavoring to remove barriers of architecture, communications and attitudes that exclude people with disabilities from full and active participation. …

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