Goodbye to a Giant: Who Else Will Help?
With the death of the Rev. Harold H. Wilke, founder of the Healing Community, the disability rights movement has lost one of its giants. Harold, a United Church of Christ minister who was born without arms, died at the age of 88 on February 25, 2003.
Harold was an early pioneer on witness by example of the
effectiveness in life and in ministry, while living with a significant disability. His work that led to the creation of the Healing Community highlighted the need and the importance of making faith communities accessible for persons, clergy and laity, with disabilities. Harold's substantial contributions can be found in many places, including his recent book entitled Angels on My Shoulders and Muses at My Side,
Abingdon Press, 1999. Those of us who knew him personally, as well as those who never met Harold but benefited from his efforts, are faced with the challenge to continue his efforts.
Where will we find those who will enter into the challenges of
disability rights work still needed in many faith communities including the United Methodist Church? Look around and see if you could encourage someone else to pick up on the challenges. We need to confront the architectural, attitudinal, and program barriers preventing persons with disabilities from full involvement.
Harold's memorial service is scheduled for 11:00 A.M. on April 27 at Claremont United Church Of Christ, 233 Harrison Avenue, Claremont, California. Donations in memory of Harold may be sent to the Harold Wilke Fund, c/o United Church of Christ, 700 Prospect Ave. East, Cleveland, OH 44155.