Augusta District

 

Augusta District Newsletter, 6/22/17

1.  District Welcome Picnic

All pastors and their families are invited to join us on Monday, June 26th,  at Lewis Memorial UMC - 5555 Hereford Farm Rd, Evans, GA 30809.  We will welcome our new pastors and their families.  We will gather at 6pm and eat at 6:30pm!  Dress is casual.

2.  July 8th - Early Response Team (ERT) Basic Certification and Care Team Training at Trinity on the Hill UMC

UMCOR ERT and Care Team Training at Trinity: July 8th from 8:30 – 4:30: There will be simultaneous UMCOR sponsored training events at Trinity on the Hill UMC this summer. Sign up early as space is limited. This is for anyone who has never been trained as well as those who have been trained previously and need to get re-certified.

(ERT) Early Response Team Training: This class provides training for those who are willing to fill a specific need in the early days after a disaster to clean out flood-damaged homes, remove debris, place tarps on homes, etc. The cost is $10 per person for the required background check that is needed in order to be ERT certified and receive an UMCOR badge. For more information about or to register for the class, contact Eric Long, Augusta District representative for UMCOR/ERT: timothylong82@gmail.com.

Disaster Emotional and Spiritual CARE Team Training: This class equips men and women on how to effectively come alongside those suffering from the devastation of disasters. This is a critically important part of the team’s response in providing spiritual support during difficult times. This class is open to everyone, though only those who have previously been certified through the ERT Training will be given a certified badge. Contact Rev. Chip Wilson at chip.wilson@ngumc.net or 706-836-4500 for more information or to register for this class. Please register no later than June 25 so we can have materials prepared for you. There is no cost for this class.

3. From the DS –

I was asked to work with the Aldersgate Board to prepare a “white paper” on disability awareness.  Here is my rough draft – perhaps it will be helpful to you are you follow Jesus and see what He sees!

Our Cause for Concern

Recently, one of our pastors refused baptism for a teenager who has Down’s syndrome.  Apart from the insult to the family and the denial of human dignity to this young woman, who insisted that she wanted to profess her faith, this incident revealed a startling lack of Christian maturity on the part of the pastor. 

According to the US census, one in five Americans has a disability.  The ADA identifies seven major groups of disabilities:

·        Cognitive – autism, learning disabilities, memory loss, Down’s Syndrome, traumatic brain injury, dementia, Alzheimer’s, and others

·        Deaf – mild to profound

·        Hidden - asthma, chronic pain, mental illness, chemical sensitivity, arthritis, others

·        Mobility – the person needs assistance in moving from one place to another

·        Psychiatric – schizophrenia, bipolar, phobias, anxiety, psychosis

·        Speech - may result from hearing loss, cerebral palsy, or physical conditions resulting in articulation problems – stuttering, dysfluency

·        Visual - limited vision, glaucoma, cataracts, blindness

Disabilities are often defined as an impediment that significantly impairs  major life functions.

A better way to define persons with disabilities in the context of church life is:  Those persons who due to mental, physical, or emotional conditions have not been recognized as whole and complete people and have not been fully included in the life of the church.

More than Ramps

Many churches seem to think of disability ministry as simply building a ramp.  The list above shows that there is more to it than that.  The barriers to accessibility may be physical, but beyond that there are communication barriers (the fourth largest unreached people on earth are the deaf); programmatic barriers (including things that bar people from the worship of God), and attitudinal barriers in us.  In fact, our problem is NOT that we have disabled people in our midst; our main problem is that our attitudes are disabled.  We have dehumanized people.

The apostle Paul said, “The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I don’t need you!’ And the head cannot say to the feet, ‘I don’t need you!’ On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable.”  (I Cor 12:21-23)  No part of the body of Christ is dispensable; yet we have failed to be an obedient church by allowing a sinful attitude to remain unchecked in us.  People with disabilities have been marginalized. 

Vinnie Adams, from Elim Christian services, points out that the most disabling condition in any community is the attitude that refuses to see people with disabilities as worthy members of our family.  We go through five stages:

1.  Ignorance – whether we consciously think it or not, we perceive “those people” as worthless.  So we avoid them or remain uncomfortable around them.  Hopefully, with a teachable spirit, we may listen and learn and move to stage 2:

2.  Pity – We still see these people as “less than.”  We think to ourselves, “It stinks to be them.”  We are unable to see all that they add to the body of Christ; we impoverish ourselves by not receiving their unique gifts.  Hopefully we move forward to:

3.  Care – We think, “I can do something about it.”  We are still objectifying people as passive recipients of our charity.  However, with Jesus as our model, we move to stage 4:

4.  Friendship – we see that we are in relation with another worthwhile soul, someone in our community.  We have moved from doing something to knowing someone.  And the more we get to know them, the more we see them as:

5.  Co-laborers in kingdom work – they, with me, are about the business of making disciples of Jesus Christ.  A truly enabled community believes that everyone belongs and everyone serves.

A church that is truly “accessible” means that all people are afforded with human dignity and worth as members of the body.  We believe that God sees in persons with disabilities a wholeness of spirit, where our imperfect vision may see only brokenness of body or mind (II Sam. 16:7).

Jesus as our model

Twenty-five of the thirty-four miracles in the gospels are with people with disabilities.  When Bartimaeus shouted, the crowds rebuked him; yet Jesus heard and answered (Mark 10:47-50).  Jesus saw the crippled woman (Luke 13:11-13), saw the man lame and blind in John 5:1-9, saw the man with palsy in Luke 14:1-4, saw the man with the withered hand in Mark 3:1-6, saw the man blind from birth in John 9:1-9, and felt the faith of the woman who had the issue of blood in Mark 5:30.  Other people passed on by, but Jesus saw, he heard, he felt the pain and the dignity of these human souls.  He called the paralyzed man “friend” in Luke 5:20 and another paralyzed man “son” in Matt. 9:2.  He gently removed some from public view in Mark 7:31 and Mark 8:22-26, in order to heal them privately.  He touched the untouchable, the lepers (Luke 5:12-13). 

•         He SAW them - his eyes were focused, his ears attuned, his spirit sensitized

 

•         He talked with them – face to face

 

•         He touched them

 

•         He gave them dignity as individual human souls

 

•         He healed them

While we pray for divine healing and work for medical healing, the Bible also teaches that God’s power is made perfect in our weakness (II Cor. 12:9).  In the universe in which we now live, chronic suffering is ongoing until the kingdom comes and God’s glory is revealed (Rom. 8:18).  We believe that divine grace is sufficient (II Cor. 1:4-5) and that while we live in these jars of clay, God’s power is revealed in us (II Cor. 4:7).  Disabilities, impediments, Jacob’s hip and Paul’s thorn, abide; but grace does much more abide.  Perhaps our hidden issue is that we are not willing to admit our own vulnerabilities; we are all broken in many ways. 

 

What should this pastor have done with the Down’s syndrome teenager?

 

He should live up to the verbiage we have in our Book of Discipline and our Book of Resolutions!  We have all the right words on paper; may God move in our hearts.

 

¶ 140: Called to Inclusiveness

Inclusiveness means openness, acceptance, and support that enables all persons to participate in the life of the Church, the community, and the world. Thus inclusiveness denies every semblance of discrimination. The services of worship of every local church of The United Methodist Church shall be open to all persons.

…A further mark of inclusiveness is the setting of church activities in facilities accessible to persons with disabilities.

¶ 162: The Social Community

I) Rights of Persons with Disabilities—We recognize and affirm the full humanity and personhood of all individuals with mental, physical, developmental, neurological, and psychological conditions or disabilities as full members of the family of God

Our Goal

·        For each church to set aside one Sunday a year for Disability Awareness (Book of Discipline, para. 262, 265), so that the church will learn to have “the eyes of Christ,” sensitized to disabilities.

·        For each church to perform the accessibility audit annually (BoD, para. 2533).

·        For each church to train staff, ushers, Sunday School teachers, and the entire congregation, to be aware and attuned to removing the barriers to full access in the life of the body of Christ.

·        For each church to consider programs which minister to people with disabilities; support for caregivers, a day in which they provide activities for those with dementia, a prom for developmentally challenged young people, etc.  These programs should be done with love and dignity, and they will show the world that we are one family in Christ.

Links for Disability Ministry:

https://www.umdisabilityministries.org/

http://www.allarewelcome.info/

http://www.faithforall.org/

https://mintools.com/special-needs-ministry-resources.htm

“But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous” (Luke 14:12–14)

Yours for the Kingdom,

Terry Fleming

Augusta District Superintendent

PO Box 204600
Augusta, GA  30907

Office:  706-651-8621

Fax:  706-651-8622

Cell:  678-447-6034

"Mockers can get a whole town agitated, but the wise will calm anger."  Prov. 29:8

 


 
 

 

District Superintendent


Terry Fleming
(706) 651-8621
terry.fleming@ngumc.net
View Bio

Administrative Assistant

Tina Lancaster
(706) 651-8621
agst@ngumc.net

Contact Information

Office Address:
3332 West Cliffe Court
Augusta, GA 30907

Mailing Address:
P.O. Box 204600
Augusta, GA 30917

(706) 651-8621 Phone
(706) 651-8622 Fax

agst@ngumc.net
http://www.ngumc.org/agst