Fall General Membership Letter
In my Summer communication, I suggested that the Association of Physically Challenged Ministers (APCM) was at a decision-making point about our efforts and our future as a caucus. I asked for your feedback. Although many did not respond at all, the number who did were very strong in their encouragement and felt that we not only needed each other but that the denomination needed to hear our prophetic voice. Some have made specific suggestions and offers of help.
The interest expressed included:
1. Our need to inform and support each others as individuals with a disability who seek to enter the process or to remain in active ministry. One person responded that it was the support provided by the caucus that gave them the ability to stay in the active ministry. We also heard from people who have left our denomination for other places and ways to continue ministry. It seems hearts, minds, and doors were more open in other denominations or ventures. Although some hoped for an actual gathering soon, more felt that a national meeting was less crucial at this time.
2. Without a face-to-face gathering, it is extremely important to place the concerns, ideas, hopes, and fears of each of us before all of us -- while always insuring confidentiality where required or desired. This is probably most easily done electronically. We have a volunteer who is equipped to facilitate us in our effort to stay in touch.
3. We need to continue our efforts to educate, inform, and hold accountable our leaders at every level of the church to practice and promote already-existing legislation covering disability rights. This includes designing and sending petitions. We as a caucus have time to perfect and submit petitions that must arrive by November 29, 2003. We have had both successes and failures in the past three general conferences, but we need to continue this important effort. Start sending your ideas about possible petitions now.
About the future: I accepted this part-time position in the fall of 1997 after my retirement from full-time ministry, and our treasurer, the Rev. James Dodge, has served us well before that time. Other former officers had formed a covenant group to support us. During this time of transition, Jim and I are willing to remain in our positions through General Conference 2004. We are not asking for dues or financial support at this time, but we are asking for three things that we do need now:
1. Your prayers and interest to support the caucus, including telling others about us and asking them to join us. This can include anyone in ministry, ministers and laity who have a disability, or church members who have a disability or feel strongly committed to the justice issues around disability rights.
2. Your own suggestions for future leadership; and
3. Your ideas on necessary petitions for General Conference.
Two final thoughts: We must not disappear or allow others to exclude us. No one can do it all, but everyone can help.
Hope and Peace,