2017 Grant Reports
The Disability Ministries Committee distributes funds up to $1000 for accessibility and for church programs that promote inclusion of all people. Five groups received funds to remove barriers from July 2016 to June 2017.
Good Shepherd UMC, Alabama
Good Shepherd UMC, Madison, Alabama, needed funds to be more accessible for older church members, people with disabilities, and for community events. With the new elevator, people who had stopped attending Sunday School (on the upper level) due to difficulties with steps, now attend both classes and church services. Good Shepherd estimates between 20 and 30 people use the elevator to attend church programs on different floors. It also helps with community outreach. Finally, their custodian uses it to transport a floor cleaner, chairs and table racks.
The church reports that since the elevator was located at the building's exterior, along with a vestibule to protect it, main doors were blocked for over four months during construction. However, alternate entrances were workable. Through creative funding with a capital campaign and grants, and by hiring a thoughtful architect, Good Shepherd can reach more people in 2018.
St. Andrews UMC, Maryland
St. Andrews UMC of Upper Hill, Maryland, is a 108 year-old church in Upper Hill, Maryland, that needed funds to be more accessible for its very active congregation. The congregation's 20 year-old elevator lift had become irreparable and was condemned.
People with disabilities who used wheelchairs or were otherwise mobility challenged could not enter the church sanctuary. They also could not go to the lower level for fellowship meals or to use the bathroom, unless others carried them.
About 25% of the 60 members are senior citizens with disabilities and health issues. These faithful members wanted to continue to attend church and serve as leaders and lay servants. Before getting the new lift, members lifted people with mobility impairments into the sanctuary and carried them past barriers to use the restroom. To meet present day building codes and make easier accessibility, St Andrew's took out a loan for the lift. They received a DMC UMC grant to help pay for part of the loan. They continue to look for ways to make improvements from door widths to seating and more.
Lanesboro and Wykoff UMC, Minnesota
Lanesboro and Wykoff United Methodist Churches in Minnesota, hosted “More Than A Ramp, but Maybe a Ramp: Being in Ministry with People with Disabilities” in May 2017. The accessible, inspirational forum offered pastors and lay leaders in rural Minnesota, spiritual, government and non-profit resources for themselves and caregivers in their congregations. A prior survey determined needs for congregations and families who experience disability challenges. Eve Newman, a DMC committee member with physical and other disabilities, shared her church experiences around inclusivity. Participants also heard about social services resources and low cost ways to make buildings and programs more inclusive, along with ways to fund them. They left with stress relieving, caregiver bags. Following the event, Lanesboro (now called Discovery Faith Church) has started to partner with other churches to host daily senior meals.