Guest written by Carrie Gubsch for Mosaic and Rejoicing Spirits
On Sunday, Sept. 20, congregations across the Southeastern Iowa Synod will work to break down the intentional and unintentional barriers that prevent our brothers and sisters with intellectual and developmental disabilities from becoming active participants and leaders in our faith communities.
This Sunday, designated as “Definitely-Abled Sunday” in a resolution passed by the 2014 Southeastern Iowa Synod assembly, provides congregations the opportunity to recognize the unique gifts and talents that each person is given by God as well as to lift of up the struggles and concerns of people with intellectual disabilities and their families.
The church and the world need the gifts people with disabilities have and are. We are not whole without them. Unfortunately, welcoming people with disabilities has not always been the norm in our faith communities.
Mosaic, an ELCA ministry that partners with people with intellectual disabilities to create a meaningful life, in a caring community, giving voice to their needs, is honored to be a part of this day. We encourage congregations to embrace and involve people with intellectual disabilities as co-laborers in the work of the gospel.
This summer Mosaic and our sister ministry, Rejoicing Spirits, had the opportunity to share the stories and history of disability ministry in in the United States at the 2015 ELCA Youth Gathering in Detroit, Mich. While we were there, we hosted an interactive booth where participants walked through the lives of people with intellectual disabilities, talked about faith and disability, and asked them to take a selfie and share it on Twitter using the #MosaicPossible.
It was a Holy-Spirit filled week, sharing stories with the thousands of teens and adults who were brave enough to experience some of the really tough barriers faced by the people Mosaic serves. Each day students and adults told us stories about how siblings, cousins, friends or even they themselves had a disability.
The highlight of our week included the leadership of Ryan, a man who is served by Mosaic in Central Iowa (formerly Mosaic in Des Moines.) While we were there, Ryan spoke about his job in the community, his friends and the staff who support him. Ryan played basketball, took selfies and made everyone laugh with his great sense of humor.
As the congregations in the Southeastern Iowa Synod prepare for “Definitely-Abled Sunday” we encourage you to listen to and share the stories of people with disabilities like Ryan and their families. Sharing these stories can be a transformative step in seeing people with disabilities as God sees them, as beloved people created in God’s own image.
The Rev. K.G. William Dahl, founder of Mosaic’s predecessor Bethphage, wrote in 1913 “the love of Christ constrains us,” as he responded to God’s call on the church to compassionately respond to people with disabilities. Thank you for continuing that vision on Definitely Abled Sunday.
Carrie Gubsch provides support and coordination for Rejoicing Spirits, which provides training, coaching and resources for churches who want to welcome people with intellectual disabilities as leaders and active community members. She lives in Tekamah, Neb. with her husband Tyler, who serves as the pastor at Emmanuel Lutheran Church. You can follow her on Twitter at @cgubsch or email her at [email protected]