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SCNC Called to Wholeness in Christ

By Rachel Chapman

In 2005, at the Twenty-fifth General Synod of the United Church of Christ, the “Called to Wholeness in Christ: Becoming a Church Accessible to All” resolution was passed. This resolution called for “congregations, associations, conferences and all other settings of the UCC to develop both short and long-term accessibility and inclusion plans with the goal of including people with disabilities in all aspects of the Church’s life and ministry.” Although all these years have passed, very little has been done by conferences and local churches to live this resolution. The Southern California Nevada Conference is doing something about that. With the support of the UCC Disabilities Ministries Board, SCNC has a newly formed Conference Inclusion Team (CIT). The team, which is made up of volunteers, both pastors and lay persons, from most of the associations and Peppermint Ridge, has been meeting since June. Volunteers representing Pilgrim Pines and all the associations are encouraged to also join the Team. Guidance and a grant from the UCC Disabilities Ministries Board has helped get the CIT started. Another important factor in the development of the Conference Inclusion Team is the support of Conference Minister Felix Villanueva who stated, “I am so excited about the creation of the Conference Inclusion Team! This is an effort that was long overdue. I am also excited about the volunteers that have come forward to make this project a reality. They are a testimony of the caliber of leadership we have in this Conference. I would like to encourage each one of our churches to reach out to the CIT members. They will guide you in creating a place where everyone is welcome.”

The Conference Inclusion Team worked diligently on a mission statement that expresses its purpose and commitment:
“In the Spirit of Christ, we the UCC Southern California Nevada Conference Inclusion Team, challenge, encourage and support the efforts of all SCNC settings, local churches, associations and camps to extend an extravagant welcome in all aspects of the church to all people with disabilities as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act.”

As October 14 is designated as Access Sunday by the UCC and October is Disabilities Awareness Month, this is a great time for settings to start those conversations on inclusion. Conference Inclusion Team members will be reaching out to local churches and associations to offer more information on becoming Accessible to All (A2A). If you would like information on how to join the CIT, Access Sunday, and on the Accessible to All process, please contact Rachel Chapman at Rachel.l.chapman@gmail.com or leave your contact information with Virginia (arroyo@scncucc.org) at the conference office.

Let’s work together to make all of the settings in the Southern California Nevada Conference places where all people with disabilities are not only welcome but also included in all aspects of the life and work of church and ministry.

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