Church Engagement

Church Engagement

Karena and Joanne of Christian Horizons' community

Building communities of belonging, together.

Churches and faith communities are among the most important relational and spiritual connections in the lives of many people with exceptional needs. We would love to partner with you in building communities of worship that are accessible for all. This page includes resources equipping you and your congregation as a community of belonging. 

A Sunday to Celebrate...

What would it look like for people with disabilities in our congregations to be known not only as people who experience limitation, but as people have tremendous gifts and abilities to bring to our communities? Set aside one Sunday this year to celebrate the contribution of people with disabilities in your church. Visit our EveryBody Belongs resource page to learn more and to start planning for a service that celebrates everyone. We're here to help.

We are thrilled to work with Tyndale University College and Seminary to offer the Certificate in Accessible Ministry – Building communities of belonging with people of all abilities. It is designed to equip ministry leaders, youth pastors, disability ministry leaders, self-advocates and family members to better understand and engage an accessible ministry.

Six one-day modules make up this certificate program, which aims to equip people to foster belonging in all aspects of Christian ministry and outreach with people living with a disability and their families. Engaging modules address practical, theological, and relational aspects of being the church with people with diverse abilities.  Each module focuses on different aspects of accessible ministry. Visit the website to see an overview of the course content and sign up today! 

www.tyndale.ca/tsfc/certificates/accessible-ministry

Send us an email at ministry@christian-horizons.org to connect.
We look forward to hearing from you!

The Disability and Faith Forum

www.disabilityandfaith.org

On this church engagement page we list a number of key resources for you in building communities of belonging. The Disability and Faith Forum is a site that allows further discussion at the intersection of disability and faith, along with countless resources on a variety of topics. You can also sign up to receive new posts and links to resources by email. 

Latest posts on the forum:

Are we useful or valuable? The relationship between utility and worth.

When God created He said “it is good”, not “it is useful”. God did not i...

The Advent of Christ’s Barrier-Free Kingdom

Isaiah presents a vision of the glory of the Lord being revealed when there are ...

Delayed Leadership (Phil Letizia) – Part II

Receiving from Jesus means we understand he is inviting us into new rhythms of l...

Delayed leadership (Phil Letizia) – Part I

In the four years since, I’ve had much to read, learn, and reflect upon. This ...

Will You Pray With Us?

The work of Christian Horizons is bigger than Christian Horizons. Please join us in prayer as we serve the person with exceptional needs. Prayer guides are posted below to print and make available at various locations as a resource for employees, people receiving support, families and church partners.

Latest prayer guide:

December 2017

Previous prayer guides:

2017: November - OctoberSeptember- August -July - June - May - April - MarchFeb - Jan 

2016: Dec Nov - Oct - Sept - Aug - July - June - May - April

Looking to equip your church in 
welcoming people with exceptional needs?

Check out the following websites, 
videos and resources.

Videos

Welcoming people with exceptional needs at SOUL

Learn how one church has reached out to people with developmental disabilities in their community to build friendships, grow spiritually, and welcome one another's gifts.

Rob and Dean at Welland BIC Church

Not only do Rob and Dean attend Welland BIC Church in the Niagara region of Ontario, they have started their own business there! Watch how one church came to recognize the God-given gifts of people in their community and, in doing so, became a place of belonging for people with exceptional needs

One-on-one with Erik Carter

Erik Carter, Associate Professor in the Department of Special Education at Vanderbilt University in Nashville TN, shares his personal insights into the opportunity that churches have to help Build Communities of Belonging for people of all abilities.

It’s About Grace!

Presentation by the late Judith Snow: “It’s about Grace!” for the 2014 Summer Institute on Theology and Disability Conference. Judith shares insights on the intersection of theology and disability in Toronto, Ontario.

Dr. Neil Cudney at St. Paul’s Congregational Church

St. Paul’s Congregational Church invited Dr. Neil Cudney (Director of Organizational and Spiritual Life) to speak in October of 2015. He spoke on Jesus’ powerful encounter with the paralyzed man in Mark 2 and how this relates to becoming communities of belonging with people with exceptional needs.

Keith Dow and Chantal Huinink at The Meeting House

In August 2014, Keith Dow (Manager of Organizational and Spiritual Life) and Chantal Huinink (Coordinator of Organizational and Spiritual Life) joined Amanda Miles (Compassion Support Pastor at The Meeting House) to highlight the need for belonging and inclusion in our faith communities.

Books

A Good and Perfect Gift (Amy Julia Becker)

A Good and Perfect Gift (Amy Julia Becker)

Challenging surprises often lead to unexpected joy. Amy Julia opens eyes and softens hearts as she brings readers into her story of disappointment turned to blessing. This is a journey of discovering strength through weakness.
Accessible Gospel, Inclusive Worship

Accessible Gospel, Inclusive Worship

This book provides many ideas for creating a worship environment with people with an Intellectual Disability or Autism Spectrum Disorder. The book also uses a concept known as “Vertical Habits” to give a framework for creating inclusive communities of worship. Transform the worship environment for ALL by welcoming each one.
Autism and Your Church (Barbara J. Newman)

Autism and Your Church (Barbara J. Newman)

Many nurseries and Sunday School classrooms have one or more children with autism. This book helps teachers to find helpful ways to minister to children with autism.
How to Make Your Church Autism Friendly (Stephen J. Bedard)

How to Make Your Church Autism Friendly (Stephen J. Bedard)

You have a new family with a child with autism attending your church. Now what do you do? Ontario’s own Stephen Bedard, a father of two children with autism and a former pastor, shares his story and some practical tips on how churches can welcome and effectively minister to families with autism.
Including People with Disabilities in Faith Communities (Erik W. Carter)

Including People with Disabilities in Faith Communities (Erik W. Carter)

To make inclusion work in any faith community, this how-to book gives readers workable strategies and photocopiable forms for identifying indicators of welcome, encouraging community outreach, and gathering important information about the support needs of people with disabilities and their families.
Inclusion Handbook: Everybody Belongs, Everybody Serves

Inclusion Handbook: Everybody Belongs, Everybody Serves

This handbook emphasizes the importance of developing relationships and encouraging everyone in your congregation to use their gifts. It's filled with information about specific disability areas as well as ideas to try when including adults and children with disabilities in the local congregation.
It's Hard Not to Stare: Helping Children Understand Disabilities (Tim Huff)

It's Hard Not to Stare: Helping Children Understand Disabilities (Tim Huff)

It’s Hard Not to Stare is the second book unpacking StreetLevel’s children’s Compassion Series. The material encourages children to look at their world through the lens of compassion and understanding, rather than assumption, judgment or fear.
Leading a Special Needs Ministry (Amy Fenton Lee)

Leading a Special Needs Ministry (Amy Fenton Lee)

This books serves as a practical "how-to" handbook for the family ministry team working to welcome one or 100 children with special needs.
Special Needs Parenting: From Coping to Thriving (Lorna Bradley)

Special Needs Parenting: From Coping to Thriving (Lorna Bradley)

Special Needs Parenting: From Coping to Thriving offers emotional and spiritual resources for the journey of special needs parenting. Sharing personal insights as a theologian and the parent of an adult son with special needs, Rev. Dr. Lorna Bradley offers encouraging and practical tools to help the reader.
Vulnerable Communion (Thomas E Reynolds)

Vulnerable Communion (Thomas E Reynolds)

In Vulnerable Communion, Toronto’s Reynolds draws upon personal experience and a diverse body of literature to empower churches and individuals to foster deeper hospitality with persons with disabilities.

Downloads & Printable Handouts

Erik Carter Belonging Handouts

Erik Carter Belonging Handouts

Helpful handouts from Erik Carter's research, including "Reflecting on Belonging," "Who is Sam?" and "Interacting with People with Developmental Disabilities."
Including Adults with Disabilities in Religious Life and Education
 (Vanderbilt)

Including Adults with Disabilities in Religious Life and Education
 (Vanderbilt)

The Vanderbilt Kennedy Center has put together an incredible resource for including adults with disabilities in the life of the church. This manual comes with a solid plan for assessing accessibility as well as equipping leaders and volunteers and includes a great deal of practical information and worksheets.
Indicators of Welcome Tool: A Checklist for Churches

Indicators of Welcome Tool: A Checklist for Churches

This church checklist will assist with identifying areas of strength and areas for improvement in your welcome of people with disabilities.
Welcoming People with Developmental Disabilities and Their Families: A Practical Guide for Congregations

Welcoming People with Developmental Disabilities and Their Families: A Practical Guide for Congregations

As a follow-up to Erik Carter’s book Including People with Disabilities in Faith Communities, this excellent practical guide was developed to assist congregations in applying Carter’s material.
Almost Friends

Almost Friends

Almost Friends is a powerful reminder that people with exceptional needs are “at risk of being marginalized and excluded.” This article serves as a good jumping-off point to explore the complexities of professional care and the vital role of natural community (e.g. churches and faith communities) in forming friendships with people with exceptional needs.

Websites

The Disability and Faith Forum

The Disability and Faith Forum

The Disability & Faith forum is a blog dedicated to equipping people with an interest in disability and faith. Stories, resources, events and videos are often featured here. Sign up to receive updates by email.
Putting Faith To Work

Putting Faith To Work

The Putting Faith to Work (PFTW) project empowers faith communities to support people with disabilities as they find and maintain employment aligned with their gifts, passions, and skills. This pathway to work is forged by tapping into the personal network, creativity, and commitment existing within any congregation.
Friendship Ministries Bookstore

Friendship Ministries Bookstore

Friendship Ministries, along with resourcing hundreds of events each month for people with intellectual disabilities, makes available a number of excellent Bible studies, life studies, and resources for accessible ministry.
Disability Concerns

Disability Concerns

Disability Concerns of the CRC & RCA offer many additional resources. Be sure to sign up for their Breaking Barriers newsletter!

Building Communities of Belonging Conference 2015

Below, find video recorded sessions from the Building Communities of Belonging Conference held in May, 2015 at Compass Point Bible Church in Burlington, Ontario.

This one-day conference shared practical strategies to develop and strengthen ministries of belonging with people and families impacted by disability. Focusing on church contexts, the theme for 2015 was "Connecting the Body: Fostering relationships, developing gifts and overcoming barriers to belonging."