Ways to Celebrate Disability Awareness Sunday

March 5 is Disability Awareness Sunday. It is an excellent opportunity for the church to celebrate, support, recognize, and affirm people with various disability, their families, and caregivers. There are many positive and faithful ways to celebrate this important day that can give a congregation a different perspective and affirm those with various disabilities in your congregation and community.

Before going any further on suggestions on ways to celebrate Disability Awareness Sunday, I want to provide a word of caution. First, do not engage this important day as a one-off expression of support. A church should celebrate this day within a larger framework or desire to be a welcoming and inclusive community for individuals with a disability and their families. Second, please use caution with the words and expressions used in your celebration. Ableism can silently show up in our mission with the disability community. Ableism is the belief that those with a disability or their families and caregivers cannot live like people without a disability. There are other definitions, but this is my working definition within my disability advocacy and my family’s journey with various disabilities.

With that out of the way, below are some suggestions on how to make Disability Sunday a holy and life-giving experience for your congregation.

Take Up a Special Offering for Ministries that Support Disability Inclusion

One way to celebrate Disability Awareness Sunday is to take up an offering to support missions and ministries that care for and support individuals and families with a disability.

Some groups to consider for a special offering are Disability Ministries of the United Methodist Church, Key Ministry, Ability Ministry, and Wonderful Works Ministry.

Take a Walking Tour of Your Facility 

A great idea might be to encourage your church to take a prayer walk after worship through your campus. The walk is about thinking of your church through the perspective of someone with a disability. It gives a congregation a chance to consider if the church building is accessible for an individual with a disability.

There are great audits and resources available online. I recommend the audit from the United Methodist Church, as it is thorough and considers both physical and invisible disabilities.

Begin a Book Study from the Disability Perspective in Worship

A book study allows a small group to learn from someone else. Disability Awareness Sunday may be a chance to start a group with the intent of learning from the disability community and hearing from their perspective.

Some book suggestions include: Disability and the Church, My Body is Not a Prayer Request, Same Lake, Different Boat, and Mental Health and the Church.

Hear a Sermon on the Problem of Ableism

Disability Awareness Sunday comes during the Season of Lent. It is a time when the church often engages in acts of repentance and forgiveness. Disability Awareness Sunday could be a time to preach a sermon on the sin of ableism and how it harms those with a disability, their families, and the church’s witness.

A sermon on ableism might focus on the nature of imago Dei (image of God) from Genesis 1:27 and how God’s image is within every person in different ways. When we can see the imago Dei in each person, especially those with disabilities, we recognize their sacred worth and contributions to society and see them as valued members of our fellowship and lives.

There are multiple ways to celebrate Disability Awareness Sunday. The important part is to do so in a way that honors God and supports the disability community in a powerful and affirming way.


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