In 2020, the Baltimore-Washington Annual Conference observed Disability Awareness Sunday on February 2. Emmanuel UMC in Laurel MD was one participant.
The church had a special service with Rev. Leo Yates Jr., a deacon, preaching. Using Luke 14.15-23, he touched on epilepsy, wheelchair users, hearing loss, autism, dementia, and ableism. Leo states that he found Sesame Street’s lessons on social awareness and disability inclusion helpful, as it flowed well with the congregation’s recent sermon series, “Good News from Sesame Street.”
Preparations for the service included an item in the conference e-news and announcements in the congregation’s newsletter.
There was also an information table with handouts featuring the UMC’s disability groups.
Some of the pieces on the table were bulletin inserts from the Baltimore-Washington Conference Commission on Disability Concerns, a brochure that highlights the different groups supported by the UMC, their work and resources available. The table also promoted the congregation’s own signing group that meets monthly.
The church also visits an assisted living facility, where classes are conducted to teach sign language to the residents. The congregation also participates in other disability-related observances, such as Deaf Awareness Sunday and several other events.