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Advocates and Allies

Advocates and Allies
by
Rev. Justin Hancock

Hi friends. Just wanted to come to you today with a brief reflection on what the last month has
been for my wife and I in terms of dealing with my disability. Out of the blue, on a Saturday
morning in late April, I got an email saying that my Texas State Medicaid benefits were going to
be terminated as of June 1st. This came as a great shock to my wife and I, given that we sent
our yearly renewal paperwork in February and although nothing had changed from the past few
years, we had not heard anything for close to three months. Thanks to a case manager who is
on top of things and Lisa being on the phone for four hours with Medicaid, we discovered it was
an error in the local office.

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Vulnerability

Vulnerability
by Steven Taylor

Vulnerability…why does this word stir up anxiety among so many in society? Is it because vulnerability reveals too much of us? Or is it because we want others to accept the “mask” that we love to put on as we go out into the world?

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Community and Disability in Light of Easter

Community and Disability In Light of Easter
by Rev. Justin Hancock

Hello dear friends. I know it’s been a little while since Stephen and I have talked to you through Julian 360. Turns out that spring for ministers is super busy! I would just like to take a few moments to share some reflections on community in the context of disability in light of Easter.

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The Feast

Reflections on The Feast, a worship service with and by the special needs community
by Rev. Ramsey Patton

I currently serve as an associate pastor at Highland Park United Methodist Church (“Highland Park UMC”) in Dallas, Texas and have the great privilege of pastoring The Feast, a worship service with and by the special needs community (not for the special needs community).  The service seeks to include and empower in worship those who are often excluded and marginalized.  I thought it may be helpful for me to share my experience and some thoughts as an encouragement to other churches and faith communities which may be striving to create more intentionally inclusive worship. Read more

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Reflections on the Last Week

Reflections on the Last Week
by Rev. Justin Hancock

I’ve had some time to think lately about the state of disability civil rights and the place of the wider disability community within our current cultural landscape. I, like many disabled people, found myself reeling when on February 15th, House Resolution 620–a bill which severely curtails the effectiveness if not the protections of the Americans with Disabilities Act—passed the House, in a vote that included 12 democratic congress members.

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Call Shapes the Question

Call Shapes the Question
by Rev. Justin Hancock

I was recently blessed to be part of a panel discussion with both clergy and lay participants involving The United Methodist General Board of Higher Education and Ministry. The discussion revolved around what were the factors that encouraged and discouraged younger people, or really persons of any sort, from going into ordained ministry in this day and time. I brought to the discussion my experience as a man with Cerebral Palsy seeking ordination. Read more

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Why?

Why?
by Stephen Taylor

Why does the disability community constantly have to fight for basic rights?  After all, people with disabilities are people too!  We want access to recreation, jobs, living communities, education, restaurants, healthcare facilities, transportation, and faith communities.  Yet here we are in 2018 and we are still lacking access to much of what is considered basic rights. 

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Are We Invited?

Are We Invited?
by Stephen Taylor

A basic need for humanity is a sense of belonging to something, such as a family, a group, or even better, a community. Our faith communities are supposed to be a community that invites persons of all abilities and all ages to come and worship together. There is a Latin word, communitas, which means an unstructured community in which people are equal. I believe this is what church attempts to be, but fails, particularly for those within the disability community.

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The Curiosity of a Child

The Curiosity of a Child
by Rev. Justin Hancock

Over the last several months I have had the great pleasure of doing the children’s sermon every Sunday at Oaklawn UMC in Dallas.  Having the opportunity to interact on a weekly basis with kids has put me in mind once again of something that I have long considered.  To put it succinctly, I think the conversation around disability in the United States would be much further along if we allowed ourselves to approach disabilities the way that children do. 

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Faith and Woundedness

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Faith and Woundedness

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about harm inflicted on persons with disabilities and their families by Christians, be they lay people or ordained church leaders. That such harm is done, that persons within the disability community carry such wounds, may come as a surprise to some.

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No More Waiting Under Fig Trees

As I sit here in the early part of this new year, 2018, I am reminded of a passage that came up during my daily prayer this past Friday. I pray with the British Jesuit and their wonderful podcast, Pray as You Go. The liturgy for Friday morning included the story of Nathaniel meeting Jesus for the first time wherein Jesus says, “Here is truly an Israelite in whom there is no deceit!” Nathaniel then asks Jesus, “how do you know me?” and Jesus says, of course, rather nonchalantly, “I saw you under the fig tree.” 

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Viewing Disability from God's Perspective

Viewing Disability from God's Perspective

Some people choose to see disability as broken or damaged, as a challenge or hindrance, or maybe even as a glitch in the genetic makeup. I choose to look at disability the way God sees it. Not as a disability, but as a gift. If not a gift for the person with the disability, a gift for the people around that person. God does not make mistakes in creating life, as shown in one of my favorite stories in John, when Jesus comes upon the blind man and strikes down the typical way of thinking about a person with a “disability.”

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Things I am Learning...Part II

Things I am learning….Part II
by Rev. Ramsey Patton

So for part two of things I am learning from being in ministry with The Feast community, I would like to share some of my thoughts on grace.  (I shared these reflections in paperwork I recently submitted to the Board of Ordained Ministry of the North Texas Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church.)

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Things I am Learning...Part I

Things I am learning….Part I
by Rev. Ramsey Patton

It is a privilege to have been asked by Rev. Justin Hancock to contribute to this blog.  I currently serve on staff at Highland Park United Methodist Church in Dallas, Texas as the Director of Caring Ministries and as an associate pastor.  A large part of my role involves overseeing our special needs ministry and leading a worship service with the special needs community called “The Feast.”  The name of the service was inspired by Christ’s heavenly feast, to which all are invited and included.  The worship service is all about empowerment and worship with and by those with special needs (as opposed to a worship service for those with special needs).  Individuals with special needs lead worship each Sunday by reading scripture, praying, singing, signing, passing the offering plates, and serving communion. 

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Living on the Edge, part 2

Living on the Edge: The Messy Truth of Bathrooms and Disability, part 2

I know that I am speaking primarily as a person whose gender presentation is male. But I know from conversations I’ve had with friends and disabled females that the problems are often worse where they are concerned.

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My Story

My Story
by Glenna Gillilan

I was born with two disabilities - - cerebral palsy which affects my speech and balance, and scoliosis which affects my balance and gives me some lower back pain as well as affected me with arthritis at a young age.

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Hello? Can You Hear Us?

Hello?  Can you hear us?
by Stephen Taylor

Do you ever get frustrated when you want to be a part of a conversation but are ignored?  Or, worse yet, you want to be part of a conversation but aren’t even invited?  There is no feeling more isolating than being in a room full of people but not being acknowledged.  Maybe my height scares people, but I really doubt that.  My guess is when people see my hearing aids, they assume that I am unable to hear and choose to ignore me.  They may be right about my not being able to hear in that setting, but they should at least recognize the fact that I am in the room.  People in the disability community experience this on a daily basis and have been doing so for centuries.

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Living on the Edge, part 1

Living on the Edge: The Messy Truth of Bathrooms and Disability

Over the last several years, as I have begun to devote more of my life and ministry to advocating with those with disabilities and their families, I have increasingly felt myself being drawn to paint a intimate, personal picture of disability for the general public. Despite the grand narratives of overcoming great odds that often get spotlighted in general society, I find that where the rubber meets the road in life with a disability is in the small day-to-day moments that no one sees.

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The Weight of Microagressions

The Weight of Microagressions
by Lisa Hancock

The stares that tell you you don’t belong. Invasive questions about how, why, and “how badly” you are disabled. Pats on the head from complete strangers. These are all examples of microagressions. Further, these are all microagressions I have personally witnessed and experienced as the wife and primary caregiver for my husband, Justin.

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The Cold Reality of our Churches

The Cold Reality of our Churches
by Stephen Taylor

On any given Sunday, churches roll out the red carpet, welcoming anyone and everyone
to come inside. This scenario is replayed by churches across all denominations. They welcome
all individuals, but once they are inside the church, families are segregated into their respective
spaces: parents attend church in the sanctuary; teens head to student life; kids head to children’s
ministry; and, lastly, individuals with disabilities—particularly children with disabilities—are
sent to an entirely different area. Here, the church is dumbfounded about what to do—if an
individual does not look like me or act like me, then what are we supposed to do?

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