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Inclusion Handbook: Everybody Belongs, Everybody Serves

Authors: Disability Concerns ministries: Christian Reformed Church in North America and the Reformed Church in America


This 39-page booklet provides a rationale (from a Christian perspective) and practical information useful to faith communities in assuring they include people with disabilities in worship and other activities. Prepared by the Disability Concerns ministries of the Reformed Church of America and the Christian Reformed Church in North America, the ideas are broadly applicable. The following excerpt taken from the first section provides a flavor of the booklet and its intent:

“Similarly, knowing the particular disability a person lives with will help churches to better understand and help that person, but people are individuals with wonderfully complex needs, gifts, joys, challenges, and interests. As advocates for people with disabilities, we must encourage the people in our churches to focus on people and relationships, and not be overly concerned with labels. So when the education team thinks about how best to include Kyle in Sunday School, they take his Down syndrome into account, but they also note Kyle’s likes and dislikes, things that calm him and things that make him agitated, ways that he learns best, and classroom activities that are challenging for him. Most importantly, they consider Kyle’s gifts and encourage him to use them in the classroom and the church.”

The information in the booklet seems to naturally fall into three sections, with the first providing background, a rationale and first steps. The information is organized under the headings of:
- Goal of Disability Concerns
- Our Calling as Advocates
- Relationships Are the Main Thing
- What Is a Disability?
- Getting Started

The middle section provides very practical information and steps congregations can take in becoming more inclusive of people with disabilities. The specific contents include:
- A set of “General Tips and Accommodations” applicable to all disability groups
- Tip sheets specific to the following topics/disability groups – Etiquette; Grief ; Preventing Negative Behavior; Autism; Deaf and Hard of Hearing; Visual Impairment; Mental Illnesses; Mobility Impairments; Alzheimer's/Dementia; Children with Disabilities; Chronic or Terminal Illnesses; Intellectual Disabilities; and Respite Care – Caring for the Caregivers. For each topic there are a set of bullet points and a list of resources for those wanting more information.

The last section of the booklet is made up of tools that individual congregations can use to assess their successes and needs in becoming inclusive of persons with disabilities. There are also sample documents that can be modified and adopted by individual congregations. Included is a(n):
- Assisting People with Disabilities and Their Caregivers
- Ways to Celebrate Disability Awareness Sunday
- Brief Accessibility Checklist
- Template for Church Policy on Disabilities
- Roles of Church and Regional Advocates
- Commissioning a Disability Advocate
- Disability-Related Commitments of CRC, RCA

At the end of the book is another, final list of additional resources divided into various categories.

Summary above is based on a review of (with excerpt and titles copied from) the booklet as viewed online.

Contact Info:
Organization:Disability Concerns, Christian Reformed Church in North America and Reformed Church in America
2850 Kalamazoo Ave. SE
Grand Rapids, MI 49560
Phone:CRC: 888-463-0272 and RCA: 616-541-0855
Cost:Print copies cost $5.99 USD

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