July is Disability Pride Month

Rev. Mindi Welton-Mitchell – Regional Executive Minister

July is nationally known as Disability Pride Month, an opportunity to honor the history, achievements, experiences
and struggles of disabled people and the greater disability community. The American with Disabilities Act was passed on
July 26, 1990. July 26 is a special day in our household because it is also my son AJ’s birthday. AJ has autism and is
primarily nonverbal.

As a family, we have had a variety of experiences at churches around the country when AJ is with us. Sometimes we
are told that AJ is too loud as he does express audibly his joy as well as his frustration. We have been offered space in the
“crying room” that is usually reserved for infants and toddlers with their parents. We have experienced times where we did
not feel welcome or included as a family. However, I can readily say we have also experienced wonderful moments of
welcome and inclusion, especially here in our churches in Wisconsin. I am grateful that the staff at our own Camp
Tamarack have gone out of their way to find ways of welcoming AJ and having him participate with other campers as much
as possible.

But there are a variety of disabilities and experiences of disabled people. One way we can truly love our neighbor as
ourselves is to consider our disabled church members and their experiences of welcome and inclusion. Where are the
ramps for those who use wheelchairs or need assistance? Does your church have an elevator? Is the choir loft accessible?
Do you have listening devices for those who are hearing impaired? Do you provide closed captioning or ASL interpretation
for those who are deaf? What we find is that when we start asking questions about accessibility, we discover that making
worship more accessible for some makes it more accessible for us all. A ramp makes space more accessible for all of us.
Closed captions make it easier for all of us to understand what is said.

But we can start by simply acknowledging that each person, in all our abilities and disabilities, are made in God’s
image. Each of us have unique gifts we bring to the beloved community of Christ. How do we welcome, celebrate, and
include all of God’s beloved children? I invite you to learn more about Disability Pride Month from The ARC, an advocacy
organization for people with disabilities, here.

Posted in News, Staff Articles.