Disability Concerns is the Christian Reformed Church’s ministry to people with disabilities. Its mandate is to help churches remove barriers of architecture, communication, or attitudes that prevent people from participating fully in church life.
Most churches are skilled at loving people through short-term crises, such as accidents and illnesses. But they have more trouble dealing with someone who has long-term needs.
Sometimes church members develop “compassion fatigue” toward people with disabilities and their families. Sometimes they just don’t know how to help.
Churches also tend to exclude people with disabilities from serving in the church’s ministries because they focus on the disability rather than the ability of the person.
The staff of Disability Concerns, paid and volunteer, helps churches learn to care for and include all of God’s people. A full-time director and part-time administrative assistants are based in Michigan and Ontario. Their work is multiplied by a network of hundreds of volunteers who serve as church contact persons and regional consultants.
Disability Concerns subcommittees support the consultants in the eastern half of Canada, in Chicago, and in West Michigan, and organize training conferences for churches in their areas.
Disability Concerns also cooperates with Friendship Ministries in its work with people with cognitive impairments in the United States and Canada.
Mark Stephenson, director
- Disability Concerns believes “everybody belongs; everybody serves.”
- We communicate with churches through our network of volunteers and through our newsletter, Breaking Barriers.
- Our services are offered to churches free of charge.
- Individuals and special church offerings support one-fourth of our budget. The other three-fourths come from ministry shares.
- About 17 percent of people in the United States and Canada live with disabilities. That translates to more than 46,000 people in Christian Reformed churches.