logo of the United Methodist Task Force on Disability Ministries
June 2011Vol. 1 No. 4

accessible raised garden bed

Accessible planter in memorial garden at Bradford Woods Camp, Indiana 



of the

United Methodist

 Disability Connection


This month we introduce you to several Task Force members and tell you more about the work of the Task Force.  Established in 1992 as the United Methodist National Task Force on Developmental Disabilities, we recently broadened our focus.  Our vision is to create a culture of inclusion for persons with disabilities within the faith community.   Our mission: through advocacy, education and empowerment, the United Methodist Task Force on Disability Ministries will lead the UMC in creating a culture where people with disabilities are fully included in all aspects of worship, leadership and ministry. 


Two members from each of the five US Jurisdictions represent the annual conferences.  Additional members represent other disability-related groups within the church, including the UM Association of Ministers with Disabilities, the UM Committee on Deaf and Hard of Hearing Ministries, and SEMAR.  One member serves as self-advocate. Members are eligible for two 4- year terms, and are selected from persons working in disability ministry or who have a strong interest in this field because they are the parent of a child with a disability or themselves experience disability. 

Current Task Force projects include establishing a comprehensive web site, promoting Disability Awareness Sunday, and developing an accessibility audit for camp and retreat centers.  We are also working to establish contacts with Disability Concerns committees or other interested persons in every annual conference.


We realize that we cannot accomplish the necessary work alone, and are excited about the possibilities represented in the network formed by the readers of this newsletter.  We are establishing a resource bank of persons who have skills and interests in disability ministry, and will utilize this list for future nominations to the Task Force as well as for joint projects and speaker recommendations.  If you want to be a part of the resource bank, please complete the following Resource Bank Application and submit it to the Task Force as an attachment or c/o Lynn Swedberg at PO Box 8041, Spokane, WA 99203. 


Lynn Swedberg, Editor





In This Issue
Task Force Secretary receives Award for "Breaking Barriers"
Meet Tim Tice, self-advocate
Annual Conference Accessibility
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 Task Force Secretary receives conference award for her work in disability ministry

In 1990, the United Methodist Women of the North Alabama Conference established the Louise Branscomb Barrier Breaker Award as a way for the Conference to annually recognize a United Methodist willing to risk and stand up for the rights of women and minorities. Each year, the Conference Committee for the Status and Role of Women (COSROW) continues to recognize barrier breakers through this award.

Deb Wade, Secretary for the UM Task Force on Disability Ministries, is one of this year's two honorees. (Rev. Dr. Joe Elmore was the other recipient.)  In her nomination letter, North Eastern District UMW president Carol Toney wrote about Deb's work as a local pastor, teacher of teens with special needs, and advocate. She pointed out variouDeb Wade accepting 2011 Branscomb Awards projects Deb was instrumental in starting in the field of Disability Ministries, such as the North Alabama Conference's "Bridge Builder Program" and "R.A.M.P. - Reaching Accessibility for ALL Methodist Persons." (More about these programs in future newsletters.) Deb is currently the NE District Director of Disability Ministries, North Alabama Conference Convener (Director) of Disability Ministries, and Secretary of the United Methodist Task Force on Disability Ministries. This year's Award was presented at a breakfast during Annual Conference on Saturday, June 4th, at Madison United Methodist Church.


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Meet Tim Tice, Self-Advocate


Disability Ministry goes beyond reaching out to those with disabilities; it also includes ensuring that people with disabilities have opportunities for ministry.  

Tim Tice, from Tonganoxie KS, has served on the Task Force since its beginning in 1992.  As a member of the Tonganoxie UMC, Tim has served as head usher for years. Members look forward to seeing Tim's smiling face each week. Tim Tice serving as head usher

In addition to his work for the local school district as janitor and involvement in other area events (i.e., ARC, Special Olympics, etc.), Tim participates in the Task Force as a Self-Advocate. A self-advocate is someone who speaks out so that his or her needs and dreams are met, and who learns to take charge of life decisions. For the purpose of the Task Force this means that Tim lets us know how he can best participate in the meetings so that we gain the benefit of his perspective and wisdom. For instance, he reminds the group that we need to listen first, and then speak. He helps the group stay focused on its mission. He is a vital part of the Task Force and inspires and motivates each of us by his presence.

Over the years, Tim has been honored many times for his hard work and dedication. Among these honors are the CROP Walk Trophy for 16 years of service and the Kasper Award for his work in the school district. Excerpts from that presentation speech are cited below:

"The recipient of our award tonight is a man of character and integrity, ... a true role model to everyone in our community. His strength of character shows through in everything he does. First, Tim is committed to his various jobs throughout our district and makes a positive impact in the lives of our students, teachers and staff. Tim is committed to his church and is dedicated to being an active member in his family of believers. He has a spirit of kindness and compassion for others. He is committed to serving others with his gifts and talents. Tim is a gentleman who displays love and faithfulness every day in his actions and attitudes."


Submitted by Deb Wade, Secretary, UM Task Force on Disability Ministries


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Annual Conference Accessibiity

Many of you have recently attended or will soon attend your Annual Conference session.  How accessible are the meetings and meeting places?  For instance, is there a ramp to every podium and chancel area?  Are video clips captioned?  Are there ample accessible parking places for persons with designated parking permits?  Do you have a system for shuttling participants who find it difficult to walk long distances?  Are all video clips captioned?  Are assistive listening devices and amplification available for all meetings where they are  requested?  Is a gluten-free option available at every communion service?  All of us find it hard to remember to make such arrangements ahead of time.

Reserved seating signs


The Pacific Northwest Annual Conference, with guidance from Task Force chair Lynn Swedberg, has developed an Annual Conference set up checklist to ensure that agreed-upon measures are implemented every year.  Your Annual Conference may find it helpful to adapt this list to your circumstances.  Please give us feedback about this tool, which we will also post on the Task Force web page.


Members of the PNW Conference Committee on Full Participation of Persons Living with Disability also staff a table during registration and at the entrance to the floor of the conference where persons can pick up information about shuttles and assistive listening devices, and request help meeting other needs.  For more information contact Lynn.


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As our newsletter continues to encourage and link people who have been isolated or are working alone, we'd like to share the resources on our Task Force website. While most of its features are standard on the Web, they may be new to you. As with most organizations, the first page is our introduction. It has pictures, a statement of purpose, and a lot of legalese. Most visitors will be interested in the menu of the major pages at the site, just underneath the first group of pictures. It is repeated at the bottom of this page, and on all of the major pages.  

Home page of Task Force web site

To go to one of the other pages, click on the words with your left mouse button. The site is designed this way, with text (instead of fancy drop-down boxes or pictures) for accessibility. People with limited motion, who use optical controllers, or people who use screen readers because of vision problems, can use the page as well as anyone else. For consistency, all of the major page headings are shown, including the one you're visiting (in this case, "home"). The page you're on won't respond to clicks. In future issues, we'll explore each page and tell what it offers.


Submitted by Tim Vermande, Task Force webmaster

Please share your ideas about future topics for this newsletter.  We would like to hear about ramp-building ministries for an upcoming article.  We would also appreciate prayers as we prepare for and conduct the Task Force's annual meeting, to be held July 13 - 16 near Philadelphia in Glassboro, NJ.   

United Methodist Task Force on Disability Ministries