Engaging and Inclusive Worship grant: Call for focus group participants

The United Church of Christ National Setting has received a $2,000 grant originating from the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship for a study on inclusive and engaging worship as part of the ministry for Disabilities and Mental Health Justice.

The Calvin Institute gave the original grant to the Disability Ministry Network, a network of denominational and para-church organizations who promote inclusive congregational ministries for and with people with disabilities, their family, friends, and caregivers. In turn, the Disability Ministry Network gave the national setting the grant award.

The directive of this grant is to plan and run consultations focused on learning from at least 20 clergy and worship leaders about faithful worship practices that are accessible, inclusive, and that creatively engage people of all abilities.

The Rev. Cheryl Lindsay, minister for worship and theology, as well as Rev. Sarah Lund, minister for disabilities and mental health justice, will organize and run these focus groups. Lund is the staff liaison to the UCC Disabilities Ministries for this project.

“This will enable us to support theological reflection, particularly as it relates to being very mindful and sensitive to our theological framings and how they impact our understanding of disability and disabled persons, and how that translates into worship,” Lindsay said. “This will bring attention to the importance of engaging and inclusive worship, because I don’t think there can be enough attention to folks who are often ignored — unintentionally and intentionally.”

‘Honor the belovedness of our disabled kin’

Lund agreed.

“The UCC has always had disabled preachers and congregations filled with people with disabilities. But we haven’t always celebrated, acknowledged, and recognized us. So we’re at an exciting time to honor the belovedness of our disabled kin, those with visible and invisible disabilities, both physical and mental disabilities. It’s nothing to be ashamed of and to hide. We’re coming out proud and together,” she said.

Lindsay is working on creating theological cohorts, and this project will be the first part of that work.

“We are aiming to develop new resources compiling the breath of creative ideas that emerge,” she shared.

Casting a wide net

Those interested in participating can fill out this form.

The open call for participants is for authorized ministers, worship leaders, and lay leaders of lay-led local churches to join a focus group for approximately 90 minutes where they will be invited to share experiences, insights, and recommendations.

The tentative focus group dates and times, which can also be found on the interest form, are Tuesday, May 28 at 8 p.m. ET; Thursday, June 27 at 1 p.m. ET; and Sunday, July 28 at 7 p.m. ET. More dates can be added if needed for scheduling purposes. 

Lund said they would like a wide representation for these focus groups.

“We want to cast a large net across the National Setting of the UCC to get as much diversity as possible,” she said.

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Categories: United Church of Christ News

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