Church Engagement

Church Engagement

Karena and Joanne of Christian Horizons' community

We believe that faith communities thrive only when everybody is included, belongs, and contributes.

Churches and faith communities in North America face diverse and complex challenges. We believe that flourishing congregations are those that embrace and engage everybody's gifts. The full inclusion of people who face marginalization, such as people who experience disabilities, is a key indicator of a healthy and thriving community. We would love to partner with you in seeing your church or community come alive with the gifts and contribution of people who experience disabilities. Building communities of belonging, together.

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.

In 2018, six one-day modules made 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. 

Stay tuned for more information about the Spring 2020 course offering through Tyndale University College!

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. 

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:

October 2019

Previous prayer guides:

2019: Sept Aug - July - June -  May - April -March -Feb - Jan

2018: Dec Nov  Oct Sept Aug - JulyJune - May - April - March - FebJan

 

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

Check out the following websites, 
videos and resources.

Videos

"Incomplete Without You" with Dr. Erik Carter

Erik Carter, Cornelius Vanderbilt Professor of Special Education at Vanderbilt University, spoke at Calvin University as part of their "January Series" in 2019. This presentation will spur deeper reflection about the ways in which churches might welcome and weave people with disabilities and their families more fully into the life of the community. More information and notes can be found at this link.

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.

One-on-one with Dr. Erik Carter

Erik Carter, Cornelius Vanderbilt Professor 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.

Brian Doerksen

In this video, singer-songwriter Brian Doerksen and his wife Joyce share their experiences, both joys & challenges, of raising multiple children with disabilities.

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

Indicators of Belonging Checklist for Churches

Indicators of Belonging Checklist for Churches

This church checklist will assist with identifying areas of strength and areas for improvement in your welcome of people with disabilities.
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."
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.
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 a comprehensive resource for including adults with disabilities in the life of faith communities. 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.
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.

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!