New York

Making faith communities more accessible to persons with disabilities is the topic of an interfaith documentary that will air on ABC-TV affiliates nationwide beginning December 6.

A Place for All: Faith and Community for Persons with Disabilities is presented by the Interfaith Broadcasting Commission (IBC), a coalition of Jewish, Muslim, Protestant, Orthodox and Catholic faith groups — including the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) — as part of ABC’s 2009 Vision and Values series. 

The issue addressed by the program is critical, says the Rev. Michael Kinnamon, General Secretary of the National Council of Churches, as it is estimated that 1 out of 5 Americans has a disability,  In the documentary, Kinnamon notes that both the faith community and the persons with disabilities lose when special needs aren’t properly addressed.
“There’s no substitute for face-to-face faith interaction,” Kinnamon reminds viewers, noting that of all the organizations in society faith groups should be at the forefront of facilitating the full participation of those with disabilities in every aspect of community life.

Other faith leaders featured in the program are Rabbi Joseph Potasnik, executive vice president of the New York Board of Rabbis; Bishop Peggy Johnson of the United Methodist Church; Ingrid Mattson, President of the Islamic Society of North America; the Rev. Bill Gaventa, director of community and congregational support at The Boggs Center on Developmental Disabilities of the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. 
Others interviewed include the Rev. Bill Bixby, director of youth ministry for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America; Imam Mohamed Magid, executive director for the All Dulles Area Muslim Society; and Rabbi Robert Levine, Senior Rabbi, Congregation Rodeph Sholom, New York.

The documentary also features Rabbi Darby Leigh, spiritual leader of Congregation Bnai Keshet in New Jersey and one of the handful of deaf rabbis in the world; members of the ELCA’s DAYLE program where Definitely Abled Youth gather at the 40,000 strong triennial Evangelical Lutheran youth gathering; Pastor Beth Lockard of Christ the King Deaf Church; and Brandon Kaplan, a severely disabled boy with limited sight and speech who recently had the privilege of becoming a Bar Mitzvah.

The documentary is produced by Debra Gonsher Vinik. Check  local listings for telecast date and time in your area. A trailer can be viewed online.

IBC is a joint venture of the National Council of Churches, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Islamic Society of North America, the New York Board of Rabbis, and the Union for Reform Judaism.