Flourishing Together: Becoming an Accessible and Welcoming Church

June 23, 2024 - June 27, 2024
Please note that this seminar occurs Sunday - Thursday: Sunday, June 23 - Thursday, June 27, 2024
This seminar is offered at no cost to those selected to participate. Space is limited. All meals and lodging will be provided throughout the week. Participants are responsible for the cost of travel to and from the seminar.
Grand RapidsMI
An application-based seminar on faithful ministry to, with, and by people with intellectual/developmental disabilities

Churches are incomplete without the presence, gifts, and friendship of people with disabilities. Yet many congregations still struggle to gather and worship in ways that welcome these indispensable members. How can our churches become communities of belonging for children and adults with intellectual/developmental disabilities? How might we flourish together as one body? 

This week-long seminar, directed by Kate Strater and Erik Carter, will explore innovative and faithful ways that churches can embrace people with intellectual/developmental disabilities and their families, both on and between Sundays. Together we will consider how worship, religious education, small groups, service, leadership, and fellowship can be designed to support the full participation and meaningful contributions of every member of the body. We will also examine creative ways of partnering with disability and community organizations to promote the flourishing of members with intellectual/developmental disabilities and their families in all areas of their lives. Participants will leave with a new vision and plan for deepening their church’s embrace of children, adults, and families impacted by disability. 

This seminar is ideal for churches that already have intentional ministry focused on people with disabilities and their families but want to extend its scope and impact. Likewise, it is well suited for churches that want to move beyond specialized or separate ministry models to postures and practices that emphasize inclusion.

Our weekly rhythm will include morning “classroom” time, accessible worship, visits to community churches, afternoon break time, group meals, and a public evening event. We will be joined at times by local ministry leaders, scholars, and self-advocates. Morning sessions will include whole-group learning, small-group conversations with other ministry leaders, and time for individual reflection. We will work together to design and refine ministry pathways that welcome and weave children and adults with developmental disabilities into all aspects of the life of your church.

Recognizing the importance of collaborative planning, we encourage churches to send a group of two who can commit to working together on these ideas in their local congregation. Selected participants are asked to engage in some preparation work in advance of the summer session including some modest readings and reflection activities.