January 24—Third Sunday after Epiphany—Disability Awareness Sunday

Courtesy photo.
Courtesy photo.

A Moment for Mission

“‘Come, follow me,’ he [Jesus] said, ‘and I’ll show you how to fish for people.’ Right away, they left their nets and followed him.” — Mark 1:17-18, CEB

Community Life United Methodist Church in Gulf Breeze, Florida, is committed to Disability Awareness Sunday.

During a recent observance of that United Methodist Special Sunday, members of the church’s Encircle Life Ministry participated as volunteers in many aspects of the worship service. These differently abled members greeted worshippers at the door and distributed church bulletins. Stationed at an information table, members distributed brochures and answered questions about their Sunday class, dances and movies, as well as other community opportunities including Miracle League Softball and the Arc Gateway adult day program and employment services.

At the worship service, an Encircle Life member led in the Lord’s Prayer. Three talented musicians shared their gifts of singing and playing guitar alongside the Community Life worship band. Other Encircle Life participants assisted with the offering and served as Communion stewards. Guest speaker the Rev. Mark Ehrlichmann spoke about being “just as I am,” and shared his hope for everyone to experience Ephphatha (Mark 7:34)—to be open in our heart, mind and soul.

Since that Sunday, several enthusiastic Encircle Life members have continued to serve as greeters and offering assistants.

Across the United Methodist connection, congregations like Community Life welcome people with disabilities and provide opportunities to be in ministry with them. Disability Awareness Sunday calls the church to celebrate the gifts and graces of people with disabilities and to include them fully in the congregation and the community.

— Adapted from “Community Life United Methodist Church Celebrates Disability Awareness Sunday,” Alabama-West Florida Annual Conference website. Used by permission.

Offertory Prayer
Loving God, Jesus calls us to “fish for people.” Guide us to welcome and nurture all who seek new life in Jesus Christ. In your name, we pray. Amen.

From Discipleship Ministries: Third Sunday after the Epiphany – Generous God, we ask you to bless the gifts we give this morning. We ask that that you help grow the trust in us, that we might follow without looking back and that we might leave behind more of our old lives to experience more deeply new life in you. Help us to leave our nets on the shore, leave those things that seemed essential before we heard the call, so that we might travel the road you have put before us. In the name of Christ who goes before us and beside us, we pray. Amen. (Mark 1:14-20)

Newsletter Nugget
How does your local church acknowledge and show appreciation of people with disabilities? Often, these vital members are overlooked because they are perceived to have limitations. Many, however, bring a unique perspective to our congregations and can be leaders and contributing members to The United Methodist Church and our communities.

Here are some ideas for celebrating Disability Awareness Sunday:

  • plan a worship service themed around God’s love and acceptance of all people;
  • invite people with disabilities to participate in the worship service as greeters, ushers, musicians and speakers;  
  • highlight existing ministries in your church or programs in your community that serve those with disabilities;
  • include a flyer in your church bulletin;
  • consider sharing part or all of your offering with groups who are in ministry with people who have disabilities.

This may include your local church, conference disability committees and the national Disability Ministries Committee of The United Methodist Church (UMCOR Advance #3021054).

Thank you for your support!

— Adapted from Alabama-West Florida website. Used by permission.