United Church in Jamaica and the Cayman Islands

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Inclusive Community - Affirmation and Advocacy with and for people with disabilities

Representatives, from both Cayman and Jamaica, of the United Church in Jamaica and the Cayman Islands recently participated in a seminar in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, under the theme of  “Building an Inclusive Community – moving beyond accommodation to affirmation and advocacy with and for people with disabilities”.

The seminar was organised by the Council for World Mission (“CWM”), of which the United Church is one of 31 member Denominations, for the purpose of empowering its members to better ensure the building of an inclusive church and engage in advocacy and affirmation with and for persons with disabilities. Coincidentally, the Rev. Randolph Turner, a former Minister of the East End and Gun Bay United Churches in Cayman, was the person with overall responsibility for organising the seminar, in his current role as Programme Secretary of CWM for Justice and Witness. Another well known United Church Minister, the Rev. Dr. Colin Cowan, General Secretary of CWM, was in attendance on the first day of the seminar and reminded the participants that “justice is at the very heart of our faith” as Christians. Mirroring the global spread of the delegates, the facilitators and speakers for the conference were a truly international group of persons with and without noticeable disabilities, from a range of professions.

Following the conclusion of the weeklong seminar, the participants issued a Conference Statement (attached); and CWM will also be publishing a policy booklet drafted by the participants, to provide member Churches with a resource to help them in energised and effective pursuit of these objectives within their communities. 

The following information is extracted from the news report on the CWM website:
The seminar was opened by Rev. Dr. Gordon Cowans [also of the United Church!], the Caribbean Representative of EDAN (the Ecumenical Disability Advocates Network of the World Council of Churches), who used the parable of the woman who gave two copper coins to demonstrate choice, intentionality and giving freely of everything we have.
Greetings from the Government of Malaysia came from YB Hannah Yeoh, Speaker of the Legislative Assembly of Selangor State. A young politician at 35, YB Hannah emphasised how the government can do nothing in the area of advocacy and championing the rights of the differently-abled without the church’s involvement. “We must fight for policies that benefit people with disabilities”, she said. Her government recently opened dialogue with the differently-abled people in the community, involving young people from the church in the process [she is an active Christian]. The conversation led to tangible results based on very practical needs, including free parking for all differently-abled people in the state, and a toy library for children with special requirements.
The highlight of the opening service was the keynote address brought by Dr. Mary Jo Iozzio, from Boston College, Massachusetts. Her presentation titled “Diverse and dependant by design” raised many critical points on the notion of “inclusive community”. She reminded the group of the Biblical assertion that “all people are made in God’s own likeness” and concluded her address with a call to focus the week’s discussions around 5 A’s: accommodation, affirmation, advocacy, accountability and adjustment.

Posted by: Administrator Thursday Aug 07, 2014 13:54
Categories: | Tags: helping others, Jesus, Justice, Renewal & Transformation, strengthening

United Church in Jamaica and the Cayman Islands