2014 Annual Meeting
The Committee conducted its 2014 annual meeting at United Theological Seminary in Dayton OH in May, in conjunction with the Light the Fire conference.
We opened with devotions on the topic, Making Paths Straight. We discussed the conference: attendance was 150 this year; last year about 300. Possible improvements include communication to various conferences and accessibility. We also discussed our role as part of UMCOR, because we are considered part of congregational health. As congregational health becomes a focus of GBGM, every congregational health plan should include disability concerns.
We noted that the committee is different now than it was when it started. One significant change is that is used to focus on developmental disabilities and now is has progressed to encompass all disabilities. Geographically it is very diverse.
Our business meeting included reports. Lynn, our consultant, is working toward being an editor for the newsletter instead of a writer and editor, thus encouraging wider participation. She is also developing a resource person program, where we can place people on our teams for wider participation and expertise.
Tom, liaison to the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Ministries Committee, continues to improve collaboration. Part of his report included a mission trip to Kenya. A woman who originally came to help on the Deaf side of things was also a special education teacher and was quite useful in helping get them into schools.
Eric, liaison to the UM Association of Ministers With Disabilities, reported on the Association's collaboration with the Love Your Neighbor Coalition, Mission U, and creating subcommittees. General discussion followed on supporting other groups while not getting lost, becoming a token or worse, co-opted or used for the other groups' own gain.
The Long Range committee has been discussing a strategy to encourage things already in the Discipline. For instance, since it is required that annual conferences should be held in places that are accessible, we should come up with consequences for not holding it in an accessible place. They will also strive to develop criteria for annual conferences to use to determine rules for a process of dismissing ministers they consider unfit for ministry to ensure that it is not discriminatory.
A resolution was passed that defined a quorum to include physical, telephone, and electronic participation. We also discussed General Conference monitoring for accessibility. We also discussed how to promote the observation of a Disability Awareness Sunday.
We have adopted the Bob Pitzer award, which started with SEMAR and has been passed to us with the dissolution of SEMAR.
On Sunday, we worshipped together at Sulphur Grove UMC's Huber Heights YMCA Campus.