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picture of United Methodist Book of Discipline

The Discipline, the book of procedure and legislation of the United Methodist Church, has a number of statements about disability. The excerpts below are those that deal specifically with ordained ministry, including incapacity leave.

Please note: while we have carefully proofread these excerpts, we cannot guarantee that they are error-free. Also, we have not followed the exact formatting of the printed Discipline.


¶ 324. Qualifications for Election to Provisional Membership
8. Each candidate shall present a satisfactory certificate of good health by a physician on the prescribed form. Disabilities are not to be construed as unfavorable health factors when a person with disability is capable of meeting the professional standards and is able to render effective service as a provisional member.

¶ 330. Requirements for Ordination as Deacon and Admission to Full Connection
5. The following questions are guidelines for the preparation of the examination:

    c) The Practice of Ministry
      (4) Provide evidence of your willingness to relate yourself in ministry to all persons without regard to race, color, ethnicity, national origin, social status, gender, sexual orientation, age, economic condition, or disability.

¶ 334. Ministry, Authority, and Responsibilities of an Elder in Full Connection
5. Clergy who are retired, on incapacity leave, or on sabbatical leave may at their own initiative apply to the conference Board of Ordained Ministry for affiliate membership in the annual conference where they reside.

¶ 335. Requirements for Admission to Full Connection and Ordination as Elder
(7). . . The following questions are guidelines for the preparation of the examination:

    c) The Practice of Ministry
      (4) Provide evidence of your willingness to relate yourself in ministry to to race, color, ethnicity, national origin, social status, gender, sexual orientation, age, economic condition, or disabilities.

¶ 337. Appointments to Various Ministries. General Provisions
1. All elders in full connection who are in good standing in an annual conference shall be continued under appointment by the bishop unless they are granted a sabbatical leave, an incapacity leave (¶ 357), family, a leave of absence, retirement, or have failed to meet the requirements for continued eligibility . . . .

¶ 357. Incapacity Leave Resulting from Health Matters and Disabling Conditions.
1. When clergy who are members of an annual conference are unable to perform their ministerial work because of incapacity due to health matters and disabling conditions, upon recommendations of the conference Board of Ordained Ministry and the conference board of pensions, . . . they may be granted annual incapacity leave without losing their relationship to the annual conference; provided, however, that such leave may be granted or renewed upon reasonable and appropriate investigation of the case by the joint committee on incapacity of the annual conference . . . . This relationship may be initiated by the clergy member or cabinet with or without the consent of the clergy member through the Board of Ordained Ministry. When incapacity leave is given without the clergy member's consent, reasonable accommodation shall be offered whenever possible. . . .
2. When clergy who are members of an annual conference are unable to perform their ministerial work between sessions of the annual conference on account of health matters and disabling conditions, with the approval of a majority of the district superintendents . . . . an incapacity leave may be granted by the bishop for the remainder of the conference year . . . .
3. When clergy members on incapacity leave provide medical evidence that they have recovered sufficiently to resume ministerial work, or are able to return through reasonable accommodation, they may receive an appointment . . . .
4. A person under consideration for incapacity leave shall have the right to appear before the joint committee on incapacity or to designate someone to meet with the committee on his or her behalf.

¶ 407. Vacancy in the Office of Bishop.
A vacancy in the office of bishop may occur due to death, retirement, resignation, judicial procedure, leave of absence, or incapacity. [Describes procedure to fill such vacancy].

¶ 417. Selection and assignment
. . . In the selection of superintendents, bishops shall give due consideration to the inclusiveness of The United Methodist Church with respect to sex, race, national origin, physical challenge, and age, except for the provisions of mandatory retirement.

¶ 430. Appointment-Making Responsibility
Open itineracy means appointments are made without regard to race, ethnic origin, gender, color, disability, marital status or age, except for the provisions of mandatory retirement. Annual conferences shall, in their training of staff-parish relations committees, emphasize the open nature of itinerancy and prepare congregations to receive the gifts and graces of appointed clergy without regard to race, ethnic origin, gender, color, disability, marital status, or age. The concept of itineracy is important, and sensitive attention should be given in appointing clergy with physical challenges to responsibilities and duties that meet their gifts and graces.

¶ 635. Conference Board of Ordained Ministry
2. The duties of the annual conference Board of Ordained Ministry shall be:

    k) To interview applicants and make recommendations concerning: . . . . (6) incapacity leave

¶ 652. [Annual Conference Committee on Incapacity]
Each annual conference shall establish a procedure by which it will manage incapacity of clergy. The annual conference may establish a joint committee on incapacity. . . . The joint committee shall be encouraged to include in its composition a person with a disability, preferably someone under appointment. . . . If the annual conference does not establish a joint committee, the annual conference's established policy and process for managing incapacity of clergy nonetheless should involve the Board of Ordained Ministry, the conference board of pensions and representation from the cabinet.
The duties of the annual conference, with respect to incapacity, or the joint committee on incapacity, or its equivalent, shall be:

    a) To study the problems of incapacity of clergy in the annual conference.
    b) To provide for a continuing personal ministry to any disabled clergy of the conference and to aid them in maintaining fellowship with the members of the conference.
    c) To provide advice and support to and, where appropriate advocacy for, clergy on incapacity in
      (i) applying for and securing disability benefits from the Comprehensive Protection Plan and government programs,
      (ii) exploring possible sources of interim financial assistance before disability benefits can be obtained, and
      (iii) establishing rehabilitation and return-to-service programs.

    d) To make recommendations to the Board of Ordained Ministry, the conference board of pensions, and the cabinet on matters related to incapacity, including steps for its prevention, incapacity leave, benefits, grants or other assistance, and programs of rehabilitation.
    e) To cooperate with and give assistance to the Genera Board of Pension and Health Benefits in its administration of the Clergy Retirement Security Program, the Comprehensive Protection Plan and other benefit plans for clergy on incapacity, and to the extent applicable assist with the disability benefits and other benefits provided under those plans.

¶ 1421. Duties and Responsibilities of the Division of Ordained Ministry
4. Support/Accountability

    g) Give attention to the specific needs of clergy with disabilities.
  • 15. It shall provide content for clergy and laity in local congregations in a variety of accessible formats to promote understanding and appreciate of the global, connectional church, to develop support for and encourage participation in initiatives, ministries, and missions of the general church and its agencies, and to provide resources and information to assist local congregations and their leaders in carrying out their ministries.
  • 17. It shall represent United Methodist interests in new technological developments in the field of communication, including research, the evaluation of new devices and methods, and the application of technological developments to the communication services of the Church.

  •  

    Please note: while we have carefully proofread these excerpts, we cannot guarantee that they are error-free. Also, we have not followed the exact formatting of the printed Discipline. If you know of other statements that should be included, please use the Contact Us form and we will gladly include them.


    Page v: Episcopal Greetings
    This book of covenant . . . . makes clear that The United Methodist Church is an inclusive society without regard to ethnic origin, economic condition, gender, age, or the disabilities of its constituents.

    ¶ 101: page 49
    . . . Our struggles for human dignity and social reform have been a response to God's demand for love, mercy, and justice in the light of the Kingdom.

    ¶ 124: Our Mission to the World . . . The visible church of Christ as a faithful community of persons affirms the worth of all humanity and the value of interrelationship in all of God's creation. . . . .

    ¶ 140: Called to Inclusiveness
    We recognize that God made all creation and saw that it was good. As a diverse people of God who bring special gifts and evidences of God's grace to the unity of the Church and to society, we are called to be faithful to the example of Jesus' ministry to all persons.
    Inclusiveness means openness, acceptance, and support that enables all persons to participate in the life of the Church, the community, and the world. Thus inclusiveness denies every semblance of discrimination. The services of worship of every local church of The United Methodist Church shall be open to all persons.
    The mark of an inclusive society is one in which all persons are open, welcoming, fully accepting, and supporting of all other persons, enabling them to participate fully in the life of the church, the community, and the world. A further mark of inclusiveness is the setting of church activities in facilities accessible to persons with disabilities.
    In the United Methodist Church inclusiveness means the freedom for the total involvement of all persons who meet the requirements of the United Methodist Book of Discipline in the membership and leadership of the Church at any level and in every place. In the spirit of this declaration, United Methodist seminaries will make all efforts to meet Americans with Disabilities (ADA) accessibility standards by the year 2011. Exemptions for historical or existing buildings are not allowed under this requirement.

    ¶ 161: The Nurturing Community
    The community provides the potential for nurturing human beings into the fullness of their humanity. We believe we have a responsibility to innovate, sponsor, and evaluate new forms of community that will encourage development of the fullest potential in individuals. Primary for us is the gospel understanding that all persons are important—because they are human beings created by God and loved through and by Jesus Christ and not because they have merited significance. We therefore support social climates in which human communities are maintained and strengthened for the sake of all persons and their growth. We also encourage all individuals to be sensitive to others by using appropriate language when referring to all persons. Language of a derogatory nature (with regard to race, nationality, ethnic background, gender, sexuality, and physical differences) does not reflect value for one another and contradicts the gospel of Jesus Christ.

    ¶ 162: The Social Community
    I) Rights of Persons with Disabilities—We recognize and affirm the full humanity and personhood of all individuals with mental, physical, developmental, neurological, and psychological conditions or disabilities as full members of the family of God. We also affirm their rightful place in both the church and society. We affirm the responsibility of the Church and society to be in ministry with children, youth, and adults with mental, physical, developmental, and/or psychological conditions or disabilities whose particular needs in the areas of mobility, communication, intellectual comprehension, or personal relationships might make more challenging their participation or that of their families in the life of the Church and the community. We urge the Church and society to recognize and receive the gifts of persons with disabilities to enable them to be full participants in the community of faith. We call the Church and society to be sensitive to, and advocate for, programs of rehabilitation, services, employment, education, appropriate housing, and transportation. We call on the Church and society to protect the civil rights of persons with all types and kinds of disabilities.
    O) Genetic Technology—Human gene therapies that produce changes that cannot be passed to offspring (somatic Therapy) should be limited to the alleviation of suffering caused by disease.
    V) Right to Health Care—Health is a condition of physical, mental, social, and spiritual well being . . . .The right to health care includes care for persons with brain diseases, neurological conditions, or physical disabilities, who must be afforded the same access to health care as all other persons in our communities. It is unjust to construct or perpetuate barriers to physical or mental wholeness or full participation in community.

    ¶ 166: Our Social Creed
    We commit ourselves to the rights of men, women, children, youth, young adults, the aging, and people with disabilities; to the improvement of the quality of life; and to the rights and dignity of all persons.

    ¶ 253: Age-Level, Family, and Specialized Ministry Coordinators
    . . . . Where needs for specialized areas of ministry arise (for example, single adults or persons with addictions, mental illness, or disabilities), coordinators of these areas of ministry may be elected.

    ¶ 254: Other Ministry Group Coordinators
    In order to fulfill the mission of the local church, the charge conference may elect annually a coordinator or ministry group chairperson for any or all of these areas: Christian unity and interreligious concerns, church and society, community volunteers, education, evangelism, higher education and campus ministry, missions, prayer advocacy, religion and race, status and role of women, earth advocacy, stewardship, worship, advocacy for persons with special needs, and church media resources.

    ¶ 256: Program Ministries
    1. In each local church there shall be a variety of small-group ministries . . . . [which] shall provide people with opportunities for practicing skills for faithful discipleship, including but not limited to . . . service with the poor and marginalized, and advocacy for peace and justice.

      1c. Mission and Ministry Groups—Christian discipleship is patterned after the servanthood of Jesus, who cared for the sick, fed the hungry, and befriended the outcast. People may participate in small groups in order to serve the needs of the poor and marginalized, advocate for social justice, and demonstrate their faith in all their relationships and whatever setting they find themselves in.
      1d. Support Groups—Where needed, the local church may organize small groups to support particular needs of congregation and community members, including but not limited to care and prayer groups, divorce recovery, grief recovery, parenting groups, and support for people who are suffering from chronic illness, including persons with mental illness and their families.

    ¶ 262: Special Sundays
    . . . Four churchwide Sundays—Christian Education, Golden Cross, Disability Awareness, and Rural Life—provide opportunities for annual conference offerings.

    ¶ 265: Approved Sundays for Annual Conference Observation—
    4. Disability Awareness Sunday . . . shall be observed annually on a date to be determined by the annual conference. Disability Awareness Sunday calls the church to celebrate the gifts and graces of persons with disabilities and calls the Church and society to full inclusion of persons with disabilities in the community. If the annual conference so directs, an offering may be received and the funds used by the annual conference to promote the creation of architectural and attitudinal accessibility in local churches. The observance of Disability Awareness Sunday shall be under the general supervision of the General Board of Global Ministries.

    ¶ 603: The Annual Conference—Organization
    4. The annual conference sessions shall be held in places that are accessible to people with disabilities.

    ¶ 610: Conference Agencies
    . . . The annual conference is responsible for structuring its ministries and administrative procedures in order to accomplish its purpose . . . . It will monitor to insure inclusiveness—racial, gender, age, and people with disabilities—in the annual conference.

      4. Whenever possible, meetings scheduled by the annual conference and its districts, boards, or committees should be held in places that are accessible to persons with disabilities even if this means scheduling meetings outside church-related facilities.
      5. In the nomination and election of the membership on councils, boards, and agencies of the annual conference, special attention shall be given to the inclusion of clergywomen, youth, young adults, older adults, persons from churches with small memberships, people with disabilities, and racial and ethnic persons, in keeping with policies for general Church agencies.

    ¶ 613: Conference Council on Finance and Administration—Responsibilities
    7. To assist local churches in making their church buildings, facilities, and programs accessible.

    ¶ 630: Conference Board of Discipleship
    1. General Responsibilities

      c) To foster and promote camping experiences for persons with disabilities, including camps specifically designed for persons with disabilities, and the participation of persons with disabilities, when feasible, in camps sponsored by the district and conference.
      d) To provide training for clergy and laity in ministries with persons with disabilities, including the areas of the Sunday school, camps and retreats, and faith development.

    ¶ 631: Conference Board of Laity
    3. The following membership of the board is recommended: . . . . Special attention shall be given to the inclusion of people with disabilities and racial and ethnic persons.

    ¶ 633: Conference Board of Global Ministries
    4. b) Responsibilities

      (19) To develop strategies in response to critical community issues, with special attention to the needs of ethic and language groups, people with disabilities, people in transitional relationships, the working poor, and those living under repressive systems.
      (36) To promote an annual Golden Cross offering other means of giving to be received in every local church on a day or days designed by the annual conference in support of the health and welfare ministries within the annual conference. This offering shall provide financial support to care for sick persons, older persons, children and youth, and people with disabilities. Special emphasis shall be given to aiding those ministries that provide direct financial assistance to persons in need.
      (37) To make available program and other resources to local churches to help ensure physical accessibility of church buildings.

    ¶ 651: Conference council on older-adult ministries
    2. Membership—The majority of the membership of the council should be older adults. . . . Members should represent the diversity of older adults in the general population, including . . . persons with handicapping conditions, persons with chronic illnesses . . . .

    ¶ 653: Committee on Disability Concerns
    There shall be in each annual conference a committee on disability concerns or other structure to provide for the functions of this ministry and maintain the connectional relationships.

      1. The basic membership of the committee shall be nominated and elected by the established procedures of the respective annual conference . . . . Membership shall include persons with physical disabilities and persons with mental disabilities.
      2. It shall be the responsibility of this committee:
        a) To be aware of, and advocate for, the role of persons with disabilities in ministry, including ordained and diaconal ministries and local church and annual conference leadership positions.
        b) To advocate for and help develop programs within the annual conference that meet the needs of persons with disabilities.
        c) To be informed about current ministries within the annual conference that are related to persons with disabilities.
        d) To develop ways to sensitize persons in leadership positions on issues that affect persons with disabilities and therefore the entire Church.
        e) To foster cooperation among ministries with the annual conference that focus on specific disabilities (deaf, deafened, hard of hearing, developmental disabilities, mental retardation, mental illness, visual impairment, physical disabilities, etc.)
        f) To be a resource for local churches who are attempting to develop ministries that are attitudinally and architecturally accessible.
        g) To promote the full inclusion of persons with disabilities in the life of the local church and the annual conference.
        h) To participate in jurisdictional accessibility associations in the sharing of knowledge and resources.

    ¶ 705: General Agency and Connectional Table Membership—

    • 1. Nominations by Conferences
      • b) Each annual and missionary conference in the United States shall nominate the persons most recently elected as delegates to the General Conference to the jurisdictional pool. In addition, it may nominate at least fifteen and not more than forty-five persons to the jurisdictional pool, including, where available, at least two racial and ethnic persons from each of the ethnic groups ...; and where available at least one and not more than five persons in each of the following seven categories: (1) clergy (including at least one woman), (2) laywomen, (3) laymen, (4) youth, (5) young adults, (6) older adults, and (7) persons with disabilities.
    • 2. Additional Nominations
      • In addition to the foregoing provisions, the Division of Ministries with Young People of the General Board of Discipleship shall nominate ten youth and ten young adults to each jurisdictional pool, inclusive of race, ethnicity, gender, size of church, and persons with disabilities.
      • d) It is recommended that the membership of each of the general agencies seeks to be inclusive based on gender, racial and ethnic persons, age, persons with disabilities, and size of church.

    ¶ 716: Nondiscrimination Policies—
    1. It shall be the policy of United Methodist Church that all agencies and institutions . . . . shall: (a) recruit, employ, utilize, recompense, and promote their professional staff and other personnel in a manner consistent with the commitment of The United Methodist Church to women and men of all races and ethnic origins, including persons with disabilities; (b) fulfill their duties and responsibilities in a manner that does not involve segregation or discrimination on the basis of race, color, age, sex, or disability, including HIV status . . . .
    2. All agencies and institutions shall, insofar as reasonably possible, schedule and hold all events, including designated places of lodging and meals for the events, in accessible settings that adequately accommodate persons with disabilities. They are encouraged to include persons with disabilities in the planning and presentation of events.
    If for any reason whatsoever any event is scheduled or held in a facility that does not so conform, all notices of the meeting will include plainly stated advice to that effect, or alternatively may bear a logo consisting of the international symbol for access placed inside a slashed circle. The term event shall be given a broad interpretation and shall include, by way of example, scheduled conferences, seminars, and other meetings to which persons are invited or called to attend as representatives of the Church or its various institutions and agencies.

    ¶ 1109: General Board of Discipleship— Education Responsibilities and Standards
    The board shall:

    • 1. Formulate and interpret the philosophy of Christian education based on biblical, theological, and educational foundations ... as they relate to the church school and related activities; individual or group study; fellowship, education and action groups for children youth, and adults; related educational programs provided by civic youth-serving agencies; weekday nurseries and kindergartens; daycare centers; choirs, drama groups, mission studies; education for leisure; outdoor education; camping; education of persons with developmental disabilities and others of special need; special Bible study groups; confirmation and church membership training.
    • 8. Establish guidelines for the organization and administration of the church school, for recording and reporting membership and attendance of the church school, and for the equipment, arrangement, and design for church school buildings and rooms, with particular attention given to the needs of persons with disabilities.
    • 10. Provide assistance and information for groups and organizations with direct oversight for United. Methodist-related camp/retreat centers and ministries, to help them with their responsibility to establish standards, policies, and procedures related to physical facilities, program, and leadership. To the extent possible, all camps/retreat centers shall be accessible to persons with disabilities.

    ¶ 1120: General Provisions for the Committee on Older Adult Ministries
    4. Membership— ...and no more than three additional members to be selected by the committee for inclusiveness (racial/ethnic, disability, age, gender, laity, clergy, or geographic distribution).

    ¶ 1330: General Board of Global Ministries— Health and Relief Unit
    1. General Provisions-
    c) Responsibilities

    • (7) assist and train conference coordinators to address emerging and ongoing issues related to refugee ministries, root causes of hunger and poverty, disaster relief, and rehabilitation;
    • (8) assist conference units in addressing emerging and ongoing global health issues, including comprehensive community-based primary health care, HIV/AIDS, ministries with persons with physically and mentally challenging conditions, environmental health ...
    • (12) act as facilitator with respect to annual conferences, districts, and local churches to encourage awareness of the gifts and needs of persons with disabilities and to promote the leadership and employment throughout the connectional system of persons with disabilities.
    UMCOR Health shall establish, maintain, and provide financial and personnel support for a United Methodist Committee on Disability Ministries to provide advocacy, education, and empowerment to lead the United Methodist Church in creating a culture where people with disabilities are fully included in all aspects of worship, leadership, and ministry

    ¶ 1405: General Board of Higher Education and Ministry: Objectives—
    4. To ensure that the board's programs and policies address the needs and concerns for ministry with racial and ethnic persons and people with disabilities.
    8. To promote and give direction to work among racial and ethnic groups, and people with disabilities for enlistment, training, and placement of persons in the professional Church-related ministries.
    25. To provide professional ministerial courses of study for orderly entrance into ordained ministry. In providing these courses of study, consideration shall be given to languages other than English and to persons with disabilities.
    27. To provide such services as will create a climate of acceptance and empowerment for women, racial and ethnic persons, and people with disabilities in higher education and professional Church-related ministries, and to be alert to the necessity of advocacy in behalf of these professional ministries in questions of equity and justice.

    ¶ 1410: Division of Higher Education:
    4. Principle objectives of the division are:
    f) To foster within educational institutions the highest educational standards, effective programs of Church relationships, the soundest business practices, the finest ethical and moral principles, and especially Christian ideals: to help people experience release from enslavement, fear, and violence; to help people live in love; and to raise awareness of and sensitivity to persons with special needs.

    ¶ 1412: 3. Division of Higher Education:
    The division shall, as it seeks to interpret higher education:
    a) Promote the Church's mission in higher education, including the special missions and education ministries to ethnic groups, people with disabilities, and other peoples disadvantaged by world conditions.

    ¶ 1421: Duties and Responsibilities of the Division of Ordained Ministry
    3. Support/Accountability

    • g) Give attention to the specific needs of clergy with disabilities.
    15. It shall provide content for clergy and laity in local congregations in a variety of accessible formats to promote understanding and appreciate of the global, connectional church, to develop support for and encourage participation in initiatives, ministries, and missions of the general church and its agencies, and to provide resources and information to assist local congregations and their leaders in carrying out their ministries.
    17. It shall represent United Methodist interests in new technological developments in the field of communication, including research, the evaluation of new devices and methods, and the application of technological developments to the communication services of the Church.

    ¶ 1703: General Commission on Archives and History
    4. The commission shall promote collection and dissemination of information and materials concerning the historic witness made individually and collectively by women, racial and ethnic people, and other constituencies not covered extensively in traditional historical documentation . . .

    ¶ 2518: District Board of Church Location
    There shall be in each district of an annual conference a district board of church location and building. The board shall consist of the district superintendent and a minimum of six and maximum of nine additional persons. . . . It is recommended that the membership include one-third clergy, one-third laymen, and one-third laywomen, and where possible, should be inclusive of gender, race, age, and persons with disabilities.

    ¶ 2521: Standards for the Approval of Building Proposals
    1. The board shall review the plans of any church in the district which proposes to construct or purchase a new church or educational building or parsonage, or remodeling of such a building if the cost will exceed 25 percent of the value of the building. . . . Where readily achievable and financially feasible, renovation plans shall provide for equal access to persons with disabilities.

    ¶ 2533: (Local Church) Board of Trustees' Powers and Limitations—
    6. The board of trustees, in cooperation with the health and welfare ministries representative, shall conduct or cause to be conducted an annual accessibility audit of their buildings, grounds, and facilities to discover and identify what physical, architectural, and communication barriers exist that impede the full participation of persons with disabilities and shall make plans and determine priorities of the elimination of all such barriers. The Accessibility Audit for churches shall be used in filling out the annual church and/or charge conference reports.

    ¶ 2544: Planning and Financing Requirements for Local Church Buildings—
    If any local church desires to

      a) build a new church, a new educational building, or a new parsonage;
      b) purchase a church, educational building, or parsonage; or
      c) remodel an existing church, an existing educational building or an existing parsonage where the cost of the remodeling will exceed 25% of the value of the existing structure or require mortgage financing, then the local church shall first establish a study committee to:
        (1) analyze the needs of the church and community; . . .
        (4) develop an accessibility plan including chancel areas.

      3. [Requires notice of approval meeting]
        b) . . . In the case of the purchase of a parsonage, the board of trustees shall either:
          (1) purchase a parsonage that has on the ground-floor level:
            (a) one room that can be used as a bedroom by a person with a disability;
            (b) one fully accessible bathroom; and
            (c) fully accessible laundry facilities; or

          (2) purchase a parsonage without the accessible features for persons with disabilities specified above and remodel it within one year's time, so that it does have those features.

      4. The building committee shall:
        c) develop preliminary architectural plans that:
          (1) comply with local building, fire, and accessibility codes;
          (3) provide adequate facilities for parking, entrance, seating, rest rooms, and accessibility for persons with disabilities, but providing for such adequate facilities shall not apply in the case of a minor remodeling project;

        (d) provide on the ground-floor level of a newly constructed parsonage:
          (1) one room that can be used as a bedroom by a persons with a disability;
          (2) a fully accessible bathroom; and
          (3) fully accessible laundry facilities.
      5. The building committee shall submit to the district board of church location and building for its consideration and preliminary approval:

        b) the preliminary architectural plans, including accessibility plans;


      From The Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church—2012. Copyright ©2012 by The United Methodist Publishing House. Used by permission.

     

    picture of United Methodist Book of Resolutions

    The Book of Resolutions contains the social policies adopted by the General Conference of The United Methodist Church. The following are summaries of the sections that deal with disability. If you know of other statements that should be included, please use the Contact Us form and we will gladly include them.


    162: Rights of Persons with Disabilities
    We recognize and affirm the full humanity and personhood of all individuals with mental, physical, developmental, neurological, and psychological conditions or disabilities as full members of the family of God. We also affirm their rightful place in both the church and society. We affirm the responsibility of the Church and society to be in ministry with children, youth, and adults with mental, physical, developmental, and/or psychological and neurological conditions or disabilities whose particular needs in the areas of mobility, communication, intellectual comprehension, or personal relationships might make more challenging their participation or that of their families in the life of the Church and the community. We urge the Church and society to recognize and receive the gifts of persons with disabilities to enable them to be full participants in the community of faith. We call the Church and society to be sensitive to, and advocate for, programs of rehabilitation, services, employment, education, appropriate housing, and transportation. We call on the Church and society to protect the civil rights of persons with all types and kinds of disabilities.

    3001: Accessibility Grants for Churches
    Money to be set aside to provide for $500 grants for local churches to remove architectural barriers; administered by General Board of Global Ministries. (Adopted 2000)

    3002: United Methodist Implementation of the United Nations' Standard Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities and the Americans with Disabilities Act
    Replacing a variety of prior resolutions, this resolution calls for full implementation of the ADA in US churches and agencies and of the UN Standard Rules. Accessible print materials, closed captioning, assistive listening devices, and sign language interpretation are listed along with physical accessibility measures. General conference sessions are to also follow these standards. (Adopted 2012)

    3003: Assisting Personal Mobility
    Calls on all agencies and congregations to be generous with time and resources in approaching mobility needs in their community and other parts of the world, and to "collaborate" with people and organizations seeking to enhance mobility. (Adopted 2004)

    3004: The Church and Deaf Ministries Steering Committee
    Establishes and maintains what is now the United Methodist Committee on Deaf and Hard of Hearing Ministries. Lays out the structure, and calls for the committee to provide resources, develop leadership in the Deaf and hard of hearing communities, nurture young people, create new places for worship, and improve global health through mission including communication in sign language; accountable to the General Board of Global Ministries. (Adopted 2000)

    3022: Aging in the United States: The Church's Response
    Sets out situation, theological response, and calls to action. Specifics related to disability include to "develop a barrier-free environment in which older adults can function in spite of impairments," and "advocacy in behalf of . . . especially those who do not have access to needed services because of isolation, low income, or disability...." (Adopted 2008)

    3184: Repentance for the Support of Eugenics
    Offers repentance for historic Methodist support of the eugenics movement which resulted in forced sterilization of persons with disabilities, as well as for acceptance of current unregulated genetic and reproductive technologies which make up the new eugenics. (Adopted 2008)

    3201: Health Care for All in the United States
    Barriers to health care access create "disparities in access [which] lead to disparities in treatment." People with disabilities are among those most at risk. Quality, comprehensive care for all should be provided. "We encourage development of community support systems that permit alternatives to institutional care for such groups as the aging, the terminally ill and mentally ill, and other persons with special needs." (Adopted 2008, based on resolutions from 2000 and 2004)

    3202: Health and Wholeness
    The "Call to United Methodists" includes a call to work toward healthy societies of whole persons. "People, who are well, but different from the majority, are not to be treated as sick in order to control them. Being old, developmentally disabled, mentally or physically disabled is not the same as being sick. Persons in these circumstances are not to be diminished in social relationships by being presumed to be ill." (Adopted 1984)

    3262: Housing in the USA
    Notes that the Section 202 housing program is one of the few "bright spots" in housing for older and disabled adults. Because this section is restricted to non-profit organizations, most of which are religious, it is a "direct ministry opportunity." Calls for expansion of congregate housing for older adults and people with disabilities. (Adopted 1988)

    3301: Abusive Treatment Methods for Persons with Mental Disabilities
    Supports positive approaches and condemns punitive, aversive, abusive treatment approaches. United Methodist institutions should research and adopt positive treatment approaches. Affirms that "The United Methodist Church declares itself to be open to persons with mental disabilities and their families, and the church commits itself to support such persons and families and to accommodate their needs within our community." (Adopted 1996)

    3302: The Church and People with Intellectual, Physical, Psychological, and/or Neurological Disabilities
    Calls the church "to a new birth of awareness of the need to accept, include, receive the gifts of, and respond to the concerns of ..., persons with disabilities."

    • Accessibility: Pledges church to renew and increase commitment to the development of a barrier-free society, especially in church facilities and parsonages. Approval for funding or construction requires access in all areas of a church building (including the chancel) and outside approaches. All meetings of The United Methodist Church beyond the local church are to be accessible to people with disabilities. Persons with disabilities should serve on committees at all levels of the church. Churches are to conduct an audit of facilities to discover barriers to full participation and take steps to remove those barriers.
    • Awareness: Pledge to sensitize and train pastors to the needs of those who have a disability and opportunities for ministry, to lead local churches in attitudinal change, to work cooperatively with other denominations, and to designate a Disability Awareness Sunday each year.
    • Adequate Resources: Pledge to provide resources at all levels of the church for various disabilities. Recommends that all curriculum be designed for adaptation to needs of people with disabilities, and that it portray people with disabilities as leaders in church in society.
    • Affirmative Action: Includes the concerns and interests of people with disabilities in affirmative action. Urges General Board of Higher Education and Ministry to monitor conference boards of ordained ministry so that people with disabilities are given equal treatment. Urges schools and seminaries to provide specialized instruction in awareness and appreciation of gifts, needs, and interests of people with disabilities. Urges local churches to conduct needs assessment surveys.
    • Advocacy Within the Church: Each annual conference is to implement methods of recruiting, sensitizing, and training persons as advocates to work with and on behalf of persons with disabilities.
    • Advocacy Within the Society: Similar admonishments to speak out in society, including rights to jobs, transportation, housing, and education.
    • Barrier-Free Construction for People With Disabilities: General Church funds are to be used only on projects that meet accessibility standards. Congregations using their own funds are encouraged to make similar provisions for accessibility. Local churches are urged to adapt existing facilities. "Appropriate national agencies [are to] provide information for local churches to assist in providing barrier-free facilities." (Adopted 1984)

    3303: Ministries in Mental Illness
    Calls for congregations to participate in the Caring Communities program and be places that offer education, covenant, welcome, support, and advocacy. Addresses issues of stigma, incarceration, deinstitutionalization, and misunderstanding of faith. Calls on the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry and seminaries to address issues of clergy mental illness and pastoral training. Asks the General Board of Church and Society to advocate for treatment reform, health care access, research, and funding. (Adopted 1992)

    6128: Seeking Peace in Afghanistan
    Urges funding of support and treatment for veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury. Raises awareness of the high suicide rate in veterans and active duty soldiers. Supports funding of health care, especially mental health care, for all affected by war. (Adopted 2012)

    8017: Cultural Competency
    While disability isn't mentioned, this resolution calls for cultural competency training to ensure effective participation of all members and especially those members of historically marginalized communities. This training could be expanded to include awareness of disability culture and etiquette. (Adopted 2012)

    8031: By Water and the Spirit: A United Methodist Understanding of Baptism
    "The power of the Spirit in baptism does not depend upon the mode by which water is administered, the age or psychological disposition of the baptized person, or the character of the minister. It is God's grace that makes the sacrament whole." "There are no conditions of human life (including age or intellectual ability, race or nationality, gender or sexual identity, class or disability) that exclude persons from the sacrament of baptism." "Through the church, God claims infants as well as adults to be participants in the gracious covenant of which baptism is the sign. This understanding of the workings of divine grace also applies to person who for reasons of disabilities or other limitations are unable to answer for themselves the questions of the baptism ritual. While we may not be able to comprehend how God works in their lives, our faith teaches us that God's grave is sufficient for their needs and thus, they are appropriate recipients of baptism." (Adopted 1996)

    8032: This Holy Mystery: A United Methodist Understanding of Holy Communion
    No one is to be turned away from Communion because of mental, physical developmental, or other disability or condition that might limit understanding or hinder reception of the sacrament. Divine grace is the essence of the sacraments, and while we may not understand how it works in those of different or limited understanding, we believe that it is sufficient. Churches and pastors need to plan spaces for physical access to communion and to provide assistance that maintains dignity and worth of the persons who need accommodations. "When worship spaces are constructed or renovated, attention needs to be given to providing physical access to the Communion Table for all." (Adopted 2004)


    From The Book of Resolutions of The United Methodist Church—2012. Copyright 2012 by The United Methodist Publishing House. Used by permission.

     

     

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