Pastors with Disabilities
Bonita Shields, NAD vice president for ministries, presented a report that was based on an action spearheaded by Diane Thurber, president of Christian Record Services for the Blind (CRS), during the 2019 North American Division's Year-End Meeting to explore incentives to increase representation of people who are differently-abled. The committee created for this action included representation from CRS, the NAD Ministerial Association, and Disabilities Ministries.
According to a recent report by the Institute of Church Ministry, while conference administrators show a sympathetic attitude toward blind persons, there is a significant lack of employment for people with significant handicaps.
“We quickly realized that before we get to incentives, we first need to talk about awareness and education,” said Shields. “We begin by becoming aware of attitudinal and procedural barriers keeping all God’s children from serving.”
Secretariat has made additional resource available to aid in the education of ability-diversity, including a mini-documentary produced by Southern Adventist University and the NAD Communication Department a supplemental article by the Institute of Church Ministry, and an article from the November 2019 issue of Ministry Magazine, “Ministering to the disabled community by the local congregation.”
“What difference will it make to the church to include ability-diversity in all areas of ministry? It’ll make a kingdom difference. It’ll make a difference in utilizing the gifts of all God’s people, and in drawing all people who are differently-abled into the body of Christ,” said Shields. “It will make a difference in all of our lives.”
Furthermore, NAD Disabilities Ministries is working to have a module available through Adventist Learning Community in 2021 to further educational opportunities for administrators and pastors.
This is an excerpt from the article "Leaders Approve 2021 Compensation and Retirement Policies; Commit to Ability-Diversity Awareness" by Mylon Medley, NAD