Mary Schordock is a long-time member of our church who was serving as a volunteer at the conference. We had a large team of volunteers who were ferrying guests back and forth from the conference to their hotels and to the airport. Mary told me about a young woman she was assisting with transportation who for her birthday asked her family for a plane ticket from Seattle to Cleveland so she could be with us for the conference. I was so touched that Jess Cummings made such an effort to join us that I asked her to do a video describing why she came. She preferred to do a guest blog.
I believe I can speak for our entire ministry team in saying we were incredibly encouraged that God is using our blogs and resources to encourage and inspire folks like Jess who are called to disability ministry and to guide her into community with her brothers and sisters in Christ who share similar passions! Here's Jess:
When I learned that Inclusion Fusion would be a live event instead of an online video conference, I was immediately interested. As more details were posted on the web site, I knew I needed to be there. I was ready to do whatever it took to get there, but my family stepped in and sent me to Inclusion Fusion Live as my birthday present.
The church experiences of people affected by disability is a topic about which I am quite interested, and not just because I am a Christian who happens to be blind. I have spent a lot of time talking with other adults with disabilities; we share stories, both amazing and challenging. While my experiences, and those of my friends with disabilities contribute to my perspective on church life accessibility, my biggest motivation for involvement in this movement is my students. I teach children with visual impairments as a profession. I want them to have access to churches that are intentional about involving them in all aspects of church life.
It was almost in indescribable experience to spend time with people who are doing disability ministry work. There is something about being with people who “get it.” These people know disability comes with challenges. I learned a lot, directly from parents about the kind of support that is helpful, versus what has been hurtful or problematic in the past. At the same time, the pervading spirit of the conference was that the church has a unique view of disability to offer the world because of Jesus. The message wasn’t news for me, but to be with others who were so passionate about this idea was a profound experience.
I’m not sure what my involvement in disability ministry will look like. In any case, I am grateful to Key Ministry and this conference. Thank you for your encouragement and inspiration.