In Spirit and Truth seeks to encourage discussion and deeper consideration of representation issues in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). It is hoped entries will prompt reflection and dialogue on aspects of expanding representation and supporting full participation in the PCUSA, especially at the assembly and mid council levels.
This blog will occasionally feature content written by one of the fourteen members of the General Assembly Committee on Representation, who are church members, ministers (teaching elders) and ruling elders from across the country, as well as links and articles of particular interest. The ministries of advising, consulting, advocating, promoting inclusion, reviewing and recommending actions are vital to the life of the whole Body of Christ. Committees on Representation and/or their functions exists at all councils above session so from time to time we may highlight activities and insights from sister committees on representation at lower councils throughout the church.
Any views or opinions presented in this blog are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the Presbyterian Church U.S.A. or the General Assembly Committee on Representation.
Author/Facilitator Molly Casteel is an Assistant Stated Clerk and the Manager for Equity and Representation in the Office of the General Assembly. She is a teaching elder (a.k.a. Minister of Word and Sacrament) in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and a graduate of Princeton Theological Seminary.
The Presbyterian Church USA marks the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. On July 26th, 1990, President George H. W. Bush, signed the Americans with Disabilities Act into law. Presbyterians have long been advocates for full inclusion of persons with disabilities and active in the national conversations regarding laws and protections.
To mark this major milestone, there is a pledge we commend to you and your congregations and councils. This pledge is to continue supporting the ADA going forward. To learn more and sign on go here for the individual pledge (or follow other links for faith communities). The Faith Community Pledge is:
Proclamation to Recommit to Full Implementation of the ADA and Accessible, Welcoming Faith Communities
On July 26, 1990, President George H.W. Bush signed into law the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to ensure the civil rights of people with disabilities. This legislation established a clear and comprehensive national mandate for the elimination of discrimination against individuals with disabilities. On July 26, 2015, we will celebrate the 25th anniversary of the signing of the ADA.
The ADA has expanded opportunities for Americans with disabilities by reducing barriers and changing perceptions, and increasing full participation in community life. However, the full promise of the ADA will only be reached if we remain committed to continue our efforts to fully implement the ADA.
Although religious organizations and the entities they control are exempt from some sections of the law, they, as institutions of faith, have always been governed by the mandates of love and justice. It is under this higher authority that many congregations and other religious entities are creating accessible and welcoming environments for people with disabilities. When barriers of architecture, communication and attitude are removed, justice and love prevails and people with disabilities become full participants in the celebrations and obligations of their faith.
On the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, I/we (name of leader or faith community) celebrate and recognize the progress that has been made by reaffirming the principles of equality and inclusion and recommitting our efforts to build congregations and communities in which people with disabilities are full, contributing members and citizens.
NOW THEREFORE, I/we (name of leader or faith community) do hereby reaffirm to continue our commitment to work toward full ADA compliance in our communities and toward accessible, welcoming congregations.
Recent General Assembly policy and PCUSA resources:
Living Into the Body Of Christ is comprehensive social witness policy for the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) adopted by the 217th General Assembly in 2006 (Minutes, 2006, Part I, p. 919ff).
In 2000, the church celebrated the passage of That All May Enter (Minutes, UPCUSA, 1977, Part I, pp. 99–108).
In 2008 the 218th General Assembly adopted Comfort My People: A Policy Statement on Serious Mental Illness with Study Guide.
The 220th General Assembly (2012) affirmed ministries with persons with disabilities in their actions taken on Item 21-02, to further implement Living into the Body of Christ: Towards Full Inclusion of People with Disabilities(2006).
The General Assembly Committee on Representation (GACOR) posted a Bible Study led by Dr. Jeremy Schipper of Temple University – Disability and the Old Testament . Also posted to the GACOR website: Chapter 2: Disability Studies and the Bible, Nyasha Junior and Jeremy Schipper (PDF) from New Meanings for Ancient Texts edited by John Kaltner and Steven L. McKenzie. © 2013 Westminster John Knox Press. All rights reserved.
Presbyterians for Disability Concerns (PDC), a network of the Presbyterian Health, Education and Welfare Association (PHEWA), published Better Together: Transformed by God’s Variety of Gifts (2015) “This resource, commissioned by action of the 219th General Assembly (2010), has been created for use in almost any context where people gather. It includes powerful personal testimonies and strategies for inclusion in every setting, from worship and Christian education to places of employment.”
Wider resources on the ADA and the 25th anniversary:
How 25 Years of the “Americans with Disabilities Act” Has Benefited All of Us | APA blog | July 23, 2015
While we continue to live into these words fully we are a people of prayer, formed in that activity with God who is deeply interested and invested in our lives and actions. Let us return to that day 25 years ago when these words were prayed. This blessing was given by the Reverend Harold H. Wilke at the signing of the ADA on July 26, 1990 at the White House:
For the Presidential Signing
of the Americans with Disabilities Act
“Let my people go!” was your decree, oh God, commanding that all your children be freed from the bonds of slavery.
Today we celebrate the breaking of chains which have held back millions of Americans with disabilities.
Today we celebrate the granting to them of full citizenship and access to the Promised Land of work, service and community.
Bless our President as he signs the Americans with Disabilities Act and strengthen our resolve as we take up the task, knowing our work has just begun.
Bless the American people and move them to discard those old beliefs and attitudes that limit and diminish those among us with disabilities.
Our prayer is in your name, oh God, whom we call by many names: the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ; Allah, the Compassionate and Merciful One; the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and of Rebecca and Sarah and Ruth; the Ground of all Being, the Infinite Source of Love and Light.