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Committee on Disabilities

Education and Leaderhip Ministries Commission is an Umbrella A minister who is blind leads a worship service.
A minister who is blind leads worship service


2005 Annual Report

Mission Statement
NCC Policy Statement, "Disabilities, the Body of Christ and the Wholeness of Society"
Annual Meeting
Activities and Products of the Committee
Equal Access Guide for Meetings, Conferences, Large Assemblies and Worship
Examples of Committee Goals
Accessible Congregations Campaign
Link to Study Paper, "Assisted Suicide and the Quality of Life"
Link to Book Review of "What Adults with Disabilities Wish All Parents Knew, Reflections from a Different Journey"
Contact the Administrator

Mission Statement

Recognizing that persons with disabilities bring unique gifts to the life and ministry of the church, The National Council of Churches' Committee on Disabilities seeks wholeness in Christ's church by promoting the full inclusion, participation and contribution of all persons. To this end the Committee seeks to:

  1. identify areas of need and gifts;
  2. generate, share and coordinate ideas and resources; and
  3. encourage, enable and challenge each other and our denominations and organizations.

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NCC Policy Statement
"Disabilities, the Body of Christ and the Wholeness of Society"

Adopted by the NCC's General Assembly on November 11, 1998

"Indeed, the body does not consist of one member but of many."   (1 Corinthians 12:14)

One in five Americans lives with an impairment that significantly limits one or more major life activities. Virtually everyone will live with a disability at some time in life. Concepts of justice for people with disabilities have evolved beyond paternalism toward the ideals of full participation and inclusion in all aspects of life. Disability rights and self advocacy movements have emerged.

At the national level, landmark laws such as the Rehabilitation Act, The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) seek to assure the same rights to people with disabilities that are guaranteed to all other people in our society.

The religious community also has taken a number of initiatives. Beginning in 1958 and as recently as 1995, the NCCC has affirmed its belief in the dignity and worth of all people, including those of us with disabilities. Most NCCC member communions have issued statements calling for the full inclusion of people with disabilities in all aspects of church life. In spite of these efforts, attitudinal, communication, and architectural barriers remain. The church has served as a point of entry for many marginalized individuals into the mainstream of society. Now the time has come for the NCC to reaffirm and broaden its commitment to people with disabilities.

This policy statement rests upon four theological principles.

1. All people are created in the image of God

"Then God said, 'Let us make humankind in our image..." (Genesis 1:26) God creates all human beings in the divine image or likeness. This image is not a measureable characteristic or set of characteristics. God's image is reflected uniquely in each person.

2. All people are called by God

"For we are what (God) has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life." (Ephesians 2:10) God calls all human beings to express the divine image through their unique characteristics. Each person's characteristics, including disabilities, are inseparable and valuable features of the unique, indivisible person.

3. All people have special gifts

"Now there are varieties of gifts but the same spirit..." (1 Corinthians 12:4) God supplies all human beings with the unique gifts needed to obey the divine call. The gifts God has given to each person are needed by all other people, and no one is dispensable or unnecessary.

4. All people are invited to participate in God's ministry

"To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good." 1 Corinthians 12:7 God invites all human beings to rely on and participate in the ministry of the church. God continually empowers each member of the Body of Christ to reflect the divine image in ways that will serve and benefit the church and the broader community.


In the light of these theological principles, it is the witness of the NCCC that all human beings, including those among us with disabilities, are entitled to rights in church and society. A life of dignity and respect includes such rights as access to education, health care, useful work, recreation, as well as the right to friendship, spiritual nurture, freedom and self-expression. The rightsof each person, including people with disabilities, are equal to and balanced by the rights of others.

We believe the human community in all its forms is accountable to God to protect these civil and human rights. God requires the church to give spiritual and moral leadership to society in protecting these rights. The church must exercise its leadership by its public preaching and teaching but even more by its example as an inclusive community of faith, using the gifts of all its members.

"Now there are varieties of gifts but the same spirit; and varieties of services, but the same Lord..." 1 Corinthians 12:4


NCCC Human Rights: The Fulfillment of Life In The Social Order
(Adopted by the General Board, November 17, 1995)

Approved: NCCC General Assembly, November 11, 1998

For additional information:
NCC Committee on Disabilities
c/o Ministries in Christian Education
National Council of Churches of Christ
475 Riverside Drive, Room 848
New York, NY 10115

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The National Council of Churches' Committee on Disabilities is composed of national leaders in the field who are appointed by their denominations and organizations. The Committee represents the top leadership in North America among mainline churches.


African Methodist Episcopal Church

American Baptist Churches in the USA

Christian Reformed Church in N.A.      

Church of the Brethren

The Episcopal Church USA

Evangelical Covenant Church

Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America

Mennonite Church

Presbyterian Church USA
Reformed Church in America

Seventh Day Adventist

Society of Friends

The United Church of Canada

Unitarian Universalist Association

United Church of Christ



American Association on Mental Retardation, Religion Division

Bethesda Lutheran Homes and Services, Inc.

Christian Council on Persons with Disabilities

Ecumenical Disabilities Network, World Council of Churches

Friendship Ministries

National Apostolate for Inclusion Ministry (Catholic)

National Catholic Partnership on Disability

National Institute of Health

National Organization on Disability

UMC Task Force on Development

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Annual Meeting

The Committee meets annually to support one another in their ministry and to work together to achieve mutual goals. For the next meeting location, contact the Administrator listed below.

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Activities and Products of the Committee

Abiding in Faith
a resource for teachers of adults with moderate mental retardation
Access Sunday/Sabbath
a packet of material that helps congregations design and implement an awareness worship service to welcome people with disabilities. ($5 for postage and handling, prepaid orders only)
Christian Education
a packet of material suitable for copying or ordering to help congregations assimilate children with disabilities into the regular Christian education class.  ($15, prepaid orders only, contact Administrator to order)
NCCC Policy Statement on Disabilities, the Body of Christ, and the Wholeness of Society
(no charge)
National Council of Churches Committee on Disabilities Roster of Representatives
(no charge)

Within each denomination and organization are publications and resources to help denominations and churches with access issues, such as physical, attititudinal, and spiritual barriers for persons with disabilities trying to gain full access to church life -- These resources may be shared.

The Committee serves as a point of inspiration for individual members who take ideas generated at the annual meeting and produce materials and events through their own organization. Examples are:

Religion and Disability
a booklet published by Sheed & Ward following a symposium which was developed in collaboration with members of this committee
Loving Justice
a booklet published by the National Organization on Disability which examines the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 as this legislation applies to churches and religious organizations

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Examples of Committee Goals

To increase the number of seminaries that have disability ministry issues addressed in courses;

To present workshops on spiritual access at secular conferences;

To encourage publication, distribution, and sharing of video and print resources;

To use the internet to distribute information;

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Accessible Congregations Campaign

NCC News Release: National Council of Churches General Secretary Bob Edgar Urges Congregations to Join the Accessible Congregations Campaign

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Study Paper on "Assisted Suicide and the Quality of Life"

The NCC's Committee on Disabilities has published a study paper looking at issues around assisted suicide, particularly from the perspective of people with disabilities. "Assisted Suicide and the Quality of Life" is available on the NCC's Web site.

Book Review: "What Adults with Disabilities Wish All Parents Knew, Reflections from a Different Journey"

Linda Jean H. Larson, Coordinator of the NCC Committee on Disabilities, commends this new release from McGraw-Hill for its "openness that touches one with humor, anger, reflection, sadness, pain and 'aha' moments."  Click here to read her review and for information on how to order the book.


Linda Larson staffs this committee.

          Also:  Garland F. Pierce

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