We thank God for your desire to create communities of belonging for persons of all abilities within your congregation! Wherever you are in your journey, we hope the following resources and next steps will help you build belonging with persons of all abilities in your church.
Core Values for Inclusive Community
As you consider receiving the gifts of persons with disabilities and implementing universal design concepts, we encourage you to reflect on our core values, which have strong biblical foundations. This video reflects well how we value each one:
Beliefs, Facts & Figures
If you’re a numbers person or would appreciate quick references to some statistics, we’ve put together a two-sided page of data for you.
Best Practices for Building Belonging: Role-Based Tips
No matter what role you fulfill, you can be a part of creating a community of belonging in your congregation for persons of all abilities. To get started, look up your role in the congregation. As you read through the various roles, consider how the suggestions might benefit everyone in your community, regardless of ability, age, or stage of life. The list of ideas and tools is not intended to be exhaustive rather to start you thinking of additional ideas for your congregation and setting.
Also available in Spanish!
Samples: Orders of Worship & Visual Schedule
Many churches provide attendees with a printed and/or electronic bulletin or order of worship prior to the service. We have collected some sample orders of worship which include images and universal design elements.
Litany and Prayer
An Ecumenical Litany of Wholeness, and a Congregational Prayer to value the gifts of all. For use in a worship service or with a Bible study group, to reflect upon and pray through attitudes and worship practices to better build belonging.
Also available in Spanish!
Inclusive Language Guide
For some individuals, words can make the difference between partial participation and full inclusion in a worship service. Consider the provided phrases in this guide for including persons with a variety of abilities in your congregational gatherings. We know some people prefer different language, and believe as Kevin Timpe says, “Person first language is good. Person-first relationships are better!”
Church Welcome Story
A church welcome story uses personalized elements to create a story about what may happen when someone comes to your church. By showing examples and images customized for your ministry, people of all abilities can have a clear understanding of what to expect when attending your church program.
Videos that will increase awareness, spur conversation, and encourage movement toward a more inclusive community.
Resources Developed in Collaboration with Congregations
Mental Health Series
Small Group Training Module
How can we measure the inclusivity of our churches? Using the 3-part framework of Perspective, Participation and Personalization, this assessment tool can be used to guide you further along your journey toward inclusive community.
Ideas for conducting a sermon series exploring the ten dimensions of belonging within a community: being present, invited, welcomed, known, accepted, supported, cared for, befriended, needed, and loved.
First Presbyterian Church in Aurora Illinois explored these 10 dimensions over 7 weeks. Their website features sermon videos and study guide materials created with universal design in mind. They included people with varied abilities in all aspects of the services (such as presenting, planning, and participating), and have a wonderful ministry going.
For an overview of the 10 dimensions of belonging, see Dr. Erik Carter’s presentations:
A Place of Belonging (article on SAGEPUB.com)
Fostering Belonging (webpage hosted by Boston College School of Theology and Ministry) with video clips, handouts, and more)
January Series at Calvin University, a 1-hour seminar given in 2019 that discusses the 10 Dimensions.
This document describes briefly each of the ten dimensions, including an icon and some Scriptures to consider with each one:
This reflection tool, created by Dr. Carter allows for deep thinking about your practices, places, and other aspects of community: