Member Church Program Resources

We’re thrilled to partner with you in building belonging with persons of all abilities!

“Walk in obedience to all that the LORD…has commanded you so that you may live and prosper” –Deuteronomy 5:33.

We seek to walk with you as you do what God has called you to do, and we are excited to see God’s blessings in your community!

As an All Belong Member Church, you have access to a plethora of resources to support belonging for people of all abilities in your faith community. We welcome your questions about the below and additional topics, resources, and situations. Please send them to Victoria (Tory) White, at vwhite@allbelong.org.

The topics below are in alphabetical order, and there are multiple resources in each area. we also offer coaching, consulting, and Member Meet-Ups, to keep you on-track, meeting your goals, and networking with others. Our monthly Member Update Emails keep you informed about these and give you ideas, best practices, and more. You are welcome to share the content here with others in your congregation, use them in or for staff training or meetings, include ideas in your bulletin or church newsletter, or send them directly to someone in your congregation who will benefit from the resource. We do ask that if other churches would like access to these resources that you direct them to become members as well. More content is added regularly, and beginning in 2021, Members will gain access to an additional set of incredible materials!

The church division began in order to bring best practices we saw working in schools to the church community. These resources come from that work. (Find out more in this article).

Wondering when we have online opportunities to connect? This calendar shows when we are hosting webinars, chat sessions and discussions. Click on underlined dates to see details and the link to join us!

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The Resources below are just for you as a Partner Member. We also have FREE Resources available to share with those who are not yet Partner Members.

Journey to Belonging

Reflect on the statements that we call markers, or points on the journey. What is true in your congregation?

We would be delighted to discuss the points on this journey with you!

Adults

Re-Member the Body of Christ: Connect with Families Living with DementiaResources for worshiping with and being in community with people living with dementia:

Join us in learning from and with persons with dementia! This webpage shows more about an initiative we welcome you to- that is engaging people with dementia, including a questionairre for asking families about their experience with dementia.

 

Congregations and Persons with Dementia: A Story and Ideas to Try by Barbara J. Newman

12 helpful tips for ministry with persons with dementia:

Connecting Through the Language of Worship with Persons with Dementia

A 2-page PDF of ways to engage with persons experiencing dementia, in any setting: Dementia tips

Another excellent resource for worshiping with persons with dementia is the Evening Star Handbook for Worship. Find out more about it, and view the full PDF of the handbook at worship.calvin.edu. (An updated version of the Evening Star handbook is scheduled to be released by 2022).

See this PDF for quick facts and other resources:

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This article from Reformed Worship gives tips for worshiping with persons in memory care residences.

Partnering with Group Homes

A conversation with Sarah Aitken. During this session, we discussed supporting Group Homes and adults with disabilities, alternative education options, and how churches can support families in these times, and other ministry opportunities, even from home.

Meaningful Employment for Adults with Disabilities

Learn from Dirk Bakhuizen, founder of Beyond 26, about how churches can partner with adults with disabilities and how Beyond 26 supports this effort, for meaningful (paid or unpaid) employment.

Identity, transitions and that ever-challenging time of becoming an adult: See this blog post filled with encouragement from Scripture.
Young man and his father laughing

Not sure where to start in equipping small groups, house churches or a Sunday School class in building belonging with adults with disabilities? A training module was created with congregations to help congregations think about that. It contains 4 segments, each with a few sessions that groups can work through to be more equipped. Videos, activities, resource links and more are available in the training module. Some sessions are for leaders only, but most are for the entire group (including the persons with disabilities): Small Group Training Module by the Circle of Congregations. 

 

This blog post on the blog of our subsidiary organization, Friendship Ministries, addresses ways that small groups may exclude some adults from participation, Bible study and belonging, and a new way of thinking.

 

 

 

 

The TOGETHER Curriculum is designed for adults with varied abilities. Partner membership includes access to all of the TOGETHER materials. Contact vwhite@allbelong.org for access.

togethersmallgroups.org

 

 

 

Below is the video of a presentation given at our 2021 Circle of Congregations Consultation all about the TOGETHER curriculum. Learn about the curriculum, how and why it is an excellent resource (video is less than 40 minutes).

Attitudes & Perspectives

image of the slideshowWe have presented on the 5 Stages of Disability Attitudes, and use that tool often. We like to “go on a journey” with people through the stages. An example is in this PDF.

If you’d like to use or have us present this slideshow (takes less than 15 minutes and is a great way to begin a discussion!) you can request the PowerPoint (video embedded) or utilize the Google Slides (video not embedded, so you have to click to an external link).

 

 

 

Below, you can watch a 7-minute video of this presentation.

 

 

This concept was developed by Dan Vander Plaats of Elim Christian Services. Find out more about the 5 Stages of Disability Attitudes on the website dedicate to this initiative: the5stages.com/

In August of 2021, All Belong hosted this 2-part webinar series discussing what inclusive worship looks like in Catholic traditions. Guests Anne Masters, Ph.D., FAAIDD  (Director, Office for Pastoral Ministry with Persons with Disabilities) rcan.org/disabilities and Elizabeth Rodriguez-Waterfield of Ministerio Amistad shared insights, ideas, stories and more.

Their slides are in the PDF’s available below.

Anne Masters Presentation (Webinar Series Part 1)

Elizabeth Rodriguez Presentation (Webinar Series Part 2)

Part 1

Part 2

This 3-minute video illustrates the Puzzle Piece Perspective.

Here is a collection of 1-page (double-sided) PDFs on a selection of areas of disability that are described using the puzzle piece perspective:

1-pager on ADHD

1-pager on  ASD

1-pager on CP

1-pager on Dementia

1-pager on DS

1-pager on senses

A description of the perspective in written form is in Barbara Newman’s book, Accessible Gospel, Inclusive Worship. Appendix A of that book contains the “Getting to Know Me” sheet which uses the Puzzle Piece to identify strengths and areas of challenge in individuals.

Looking for images of people with varied abilities? Browse disabilityisbeautiful.com. You can also upload images (that you have permission to share!) to expand this collection of images that seek to represent the fullness of community and all who bear the image of God.

Barbara Newman's Legacy

Universal Design, Public Worship, and the Christian Life (by John Witvliet, highlights legacy of Barbara Newman)

Worship and Faith Formation Through the Lifecycle (2-hour seminar panel)

On this page you’ll see how

  • Dr. Steve Gcevich of Key Ministry honors Barb with a tribute.
  • Scott Hoeze reflects on her impact
  • Mark Stephenson and Terry DeYoung share their perspectives on her work and legacy

Here you’ll see Zeeland Christian School’s Facebook video commemorate their beloved teacher, mentor and pioneer of inclusive education:

The Christian Leader’s Institute honored Barb, who created the course, with Victoria White, called Disability Smart: Creating Congregations of Belonging, as one of their ministry training courses available as of spring 2020. See the Langauge of Inclusion tab below for more information about the course. Here a 3-minute the video they put together:

Musician and artist Ken Medema composed a song for and about Barb. This Facebook video is raw but the song is beautiful and honoring.

At the 2021 Circle of Congregations Consultation, a sweet time of remembrance was held.

 

John Swinton shares what he learned from Barb, in an interview in 2020:

 

In this Member Meet-Up we remembered what we learned from Barb:

This Google Jamboard is a whitebaord space for laments over the loss of Barb.

Children's Ministry

Classroom Strategies for Student Behaviors

Multiple tools to support students with unique behavior needs. Discover how to do more than just manage, with strategies for including individuals who have intense behavioral needs as well as a framework to use for interacting with all students.

This session was part of the NCEA conference 2021.

A technique for thinking with a child through behavior choices: Mind the Gap (with explanation). Here is the template for using this technique with a child: Mind the Gap template

 

 

KidMin Nation’s MegaCon breakout session:

The Behavior Management Playing Field by Barbara Newman (at NWMC)

Is the behavior of one person jeopardizing the stability of the whole group? Spend some time exploring strategies you can implement surrounding behavior management issues in your home or church. By the end, your idea tool box will be overflowing!

Congregational Intake Form: Recently updated, this is a useful tool when you need to gather some information about a child (or any individual) coming into your programs so that you can best support them. You can download the word document and edit to have your church logo, add additional children or family members, etc. This also includes a photo/video release portion, so you can have all of those details handled at one time. The document has All Belong’s name in the photo/video release so that as a partner church, you could share with us the amazing things you are doing and the people whose lives are being transformed with the Gospel, and we can share these on our platforms as well. If you wish, you can remove All Belong’s name from the form.

Spanish version: Congregational Intake Form Spanish

Spiritual IEP: One of our church services consultants, Rev. Dr. LaTonya Penny, has created a spiritual IEP as an example for use in churches. Please note that this is for every child in the ministry, not just for children who may have a disability.

After our Member Meet-Up considering what Dr. Rozema shared, one participant commented, “it’s like what I know to listen for in music: Frequency, Duration, Intensity. And in music we also listen for changes in Tone.” In children’s mental health, perhaps we also can be aware of the tone in which behaviors and words are coming at us.

Noticing children’s mental health changes:  A conversation with Dr. Sherri Rozema, school psychologist for All Belong, identifying ways to notice and address kids’ mental health changes.

The Church Supporting Kids’ Mental Health

After our original session learning from Dr. Rozema, we had more questions. She graciously answered them in this follow-up video session. The first question was “How do we help when parents don’t want mental health supports for their child?”. Others include “What could churches do to come alongside families in need of professional mental health support??” and “is depression expressed differently in young children than in teens and adults?”

 

2 minutes on how the church is part of the village of support for kids:

The full Q & A session is here:

If you would like help navigating the mental health supports available in your area, our consultants are ready to help!

Set a time to talk

Universal Design in Children’s Ministry

A  45 minute workshop with Victoria White on Universal Design for Children’s ministry including ideas and resources for virtual ministry during and beyond the pandemic.

View or download the outline handout

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View or download the PowerPoint slides 

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Worship as One: Kids in the Mix

A workshop with Victoria White on including kids of all abilities in children’s worship opportunties

Try using this “Get to Know Me” sheet to write down what you know and learn about an individual, one of the tools used in the following resources, and found in Barbara Newman’s book Accessible Gospel, Inclusive Worship.

 

This slide deck briefly goes through some ideas for Connecting with kids with varying abilities

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here are 3 ways to connect with kids with varying abilities: Activities to Try (with instructions):

 

For more about Praise Streamers and visual schedules, see this 3-minute video:

Adapting Games for All Abilities

Need a few ideas for how to adapt some high-activity games? Here are a few options to get you thinking:  Games with adaptation options

 

Reaching Virtually Every Child

An audio recording by Victoria White, originally recorded for the Children’s Pastor’s Conference 2021, addressing how children’s ministry can reach every child, even if, and perhaps because of relying on virtual connections. Listen here.

PowerPoint Slides for viewing or download: Virtually Every Child slidedeck

Handout for download: Reaching Virtually Every Child handout

Children’s Ministry for All in the Era of COVID

A webinar with Victoria White thinking about how to include children of all abilities in children’s ministry even while pivoting how ministry happens and how to support families from afar.

Webinar hosted by the ARC of Prince George’s County Spiritual Community Collaboration

Handout for download: CM in era of COVID (July 2020 webinar for ARC Prince George)

Including Children with Disabilities: Preparing a Place of Welcome with Barbara Newman (at NWMC)

The MOST IMPORTANT AND POWERFUL KEY to including children and adults with disabilities is giving God-honoring INFORMATION to peers and volunteers. Learn practical strategies for preparing your congregation to eagerly receive those with disabilities into the body of Christ.

Information Gathering Survey (this link allows you to download, modify and use this survey).

Here is a preview of the survey:

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All Belong’s director of evaluation services, Betsy Winkle, Ed.S., provides a webinar on becoming trauma-informed for your children’s and youth ministries.

Additional resources:

Finding Your ACE Score

Trauma Infographic

How Trauma Can Affect Your Window of Tolerance

Trauma-Informed Ministry Resource Guide

Circle of Congregations

Circle of Congregations

See the Circle of Congregations webpage for recordings and information from the 2021 In-Person/Virtual (Hybrid) event.

or go directly to the Resources developed by the Circle of Congregations.

Cultural Context and Varied Abilities

All Belong’s consultant, Rev. Dr. LaTonya Penny joins other experts (Dr. Luchara Wallace of Western Michigan University, and #AutismPastor Dr. Lamar Hardwick of Tri-Cities Church) in disability, ministry, and the culture of the church in the black community in the United States for a webinar series hosted by the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (AAIDD).

See the webinar series recordings and more information at the AAIDD website

Find out more on the Circle of Congregations page!

One of the 2021 Collaborative Projects for the Circle of Congregations is to learn more about culturally specific supports for inclusive worship. Learn more!

  • Worship for All Abilities Across Cultures from Maria Cornou’s reflections on multicultural settings and varied abilities (shared at the 2019 Circle of Congregations Consultation)
  • See multicultural worship in action during the 2020 Symposium on Worship at Calvin: (Songs that Welcome and Songs that Send, about 1 hour long) -at 47 minutes, a brief message shares about multicultural worship followed by a great example re-framing worship songs in the hands of a DJ).

  • 2-minutes of thought on Latino culture and disability from Mariano Avila (Director of Latino/a Ministry at Calvin Seminary): see the full interview with him here.

  • 2 minutes of thoughts on Chinese culture from Kai Ton Chau (Resource Development Specialist, CICW): see the full interview with him here.

CICW logoLearn with Calvin Institute of Christian Worship.

Join a Cohort, course, or find resources compiled by CICW.

arms of varying colors and sizes claspedSee All Belong’s Statement Against Racism

This library will continue to grow, and these Spanish versions of documents will also be available where you see them in English.

Spanish Person First Language Guide

 

Filosofia del lenguaje

 

Guía del lenguaje apropiado

 

 

 

 

 

child and woman smiling at one another

 

Information Gathering Survey Spanish

Letania ecumencia y Oracion

 

 

Find out more about resources in Latin American contexts at amistad.friendship.org

and see this article (in Spanish) about inclusive ministry by Elizabeth Rodriguez on CICW’s webpage. (See the article in English here).

The video below is an interview with Calvin Theological Seminary’s Director of Latino/a Ministries on worship and thinking about persons with varied abilities, which was part of a learning project with the Circle of Congregations in 2020-21.

Funding Efforts

  • Vital Worship Grants from CICW in which you can apply for funds to explore, learn and grow in worship practices (such as Universal Design for worship, and worshipping with persons with varied abilities…)
  • Grants for families, teachers and churches for equipment or services particular to individuals with autism from the Autism Support of West Shore (local to West Michigan)

Grants and other resources from the Center for Congregations (to communities in Indiana).

Jon Helder, former Advancement Director for All Belong, shares insights of fundraising with congregations to gain support for the passionate work God has called them to do.

Want to put on a conference or hold a training? Get funding from the Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities (TCDD). Find out and apply at tcdd.texas.gov/grants/funding-available/disability-related-speakers-stipends/.

Language that builds belonging

Are you looking for assistance as you share about inclusive community?

Explore the All Belong Brand Guide to learn how our core beliefs impact our language, visual communications, approach to storytelling, and more.

10 week course by Barbara Newman and Victoria White

Overview

People with Down syndrome, autism, ADHD, learning differences, dementia, medical challenges, and other differences of ability are treasured by God and should be treasured in every church. This course provides the framework and practical tools to shape a congregation where people of varying abilities and disabilities can participate and belong.

Disability Smart refers to interacting wisely and well with people of differing abilities. The word “disability,” though widely used, can be misleading if understood negatively. God endows people with differences of ability. So the word “disability” is often less helpful than phrases such as “differences of ability” or “all abilities.” Although the course is titled “Disability Smart” to keep it short, the subtitle better expresses the purpose of this class: Creating Congregations of Belonging for People of All Abilities.

As church leaders oversee worship, education, fellowship, and service opportunities for people in their congregations, it’s important to recognize that the congregation consists of people of all abilities. Children’s programs may include a child with Down syndrome or autism spectrum disorder. Adult programs may include individuals who are struggling readers or a person diagnosed with dementia. When we worship as a community, there will be people gathered who represent a wide variety of abilities and disabilities. This course will equip you to make your congregation a community where each one can participate and belong. Pastors, worship leaders, children and youth leaders, and others involved in leading church programs will benefit from this course.

 

Outcomes
1. Learn a framework (known as the 3-part plan) for effective ministry with people of all abilities.
2. Explore the Puzzle Piece Perspective (Part 1 of the plan), as a Scriptural understanding of God’s design of individuals and communities.
3. Learn and apply principles of Universal Design for Participation (Part 2 of the plan) in various ministries within your congregation.
4. Learn and apply principles of Responsive Design (Part 3 of the plan) that will allow you to plan for individuals.
5. Discover some areas of difference, such as autism spectrum disorder, dementia, mobility differences and medical conditions, and how to apply the framework (3-part plan).
6. Learn how to embrace the God-given gifts of each person God has arranged as part of your community and strategies that allow for individuals to use their gifts.
7. Recognize that learning and spiritual growth can happen in different ways for different individuals, but that each one is designed to fill an important part of the Kingdom.
8. Discover ways to introduce people to Jesus who take in information differently than you do.
9. Learn how to worship with persons with dementia, address challenging behaviors and discover important cultural dimensions of ministry with people of varied abilities.
10. Be confident that the setting you oversee can provide places of belonging for people of all abilities.

Resources
This course includes written materials by Barbara J. Newman (with contributions by Betty Grit).

NOTE: log in as a guest to see course content. Or enroll as a student of CLI to take advantage of all the features of the course and access other great learning thanks to CLI!

Team Belong offers these guidelines for person-first language when applying for their grants. Find out more at pathways.org/award/team-belong/.

The CDC offers a comprehensive guide to communicating with and about people with disabilities. Consider offering this as a resource for your church and/or ministry to reference. Access the PDF here.

This manuscript of a seminar by John Knight at the Bethlehem Conference for Pastors & Church Leaders, Minneapolis MN Feb. 2, 2020 makes excellent statements and gives Scriptural reasoning for thinking about disability and practical help for how to welcome, embrace, disciple and prepare for service those God has called to live an atypical life in this present age.

 

The below video by Turnstone (an organization in Indiana creating opportunities for persons with disabilities) gives practical and personal advice on addressing People first.

The video below introduces persons with disabilities. It is 1-minute trailer for the video project known as Invisible Voices, and asks, “What do you think of when you hear the word disability?”

The Ten Dimensions of Belonging are a key component to how we understand building belonging with persons with varied abilities. Below are some resources about those dimensions, what they look like in community, and how that impacts the way in which we do ministry.

This 10 Dimensions of Belonging PDF offers a brief description of the dimensions.

Our “Tuesdays at 2” session with Member Churches hosted guest Dr. Erik Carter, where he focuses on belonging for persons with varied abilities during the COVID-19 pandemic. For more resources surrounding COVID-19, please visit allbelong.org/covid-19-resources/

 

 

 

A sermon series, Bible study, and many resources to accompany them have been created because of the interactions in the session captured in this video.

a graphic in blue with the words "the family table the plae we all belong" and an image of a tableExplore the sermon series, “At the Family Table” and more.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

See also our Guide to Best Practices for Building Belonging in Congregations, which is also featured in the Universal Design resources section.

Inclusive Language Suggestions

For some individuals, words can make the difference between partial participation and full belonging in a worship community. Consider these alternative phrases for including persons with a variety of abilities in your congregational gatherings.

Inclusive Language Guide

For some individuals, words can make the difference between partial participation and full inclusion in a worship service. Consider the provided alternative phrases in our Person First Language Guide for including persons with a variety of abilities in your congregational gatherings. (Available in Spanish here)

For additional information, refer to the “Philosophy of Language” section, located in the All Belong Brand Guide, and see this blog post on Why I Choose Person-First Language.

Read about using appropriate and helpful language regarding mental health challenges in the church setting in this article, “Speaking Well in Worship About Mental Illness” by Charlotte vanOyen Witvliet

See this PDF of a Litany and Prayer you can use to address varied abilities in your liturgy

An Ecumenical Litany for Wholeness (Adapted by All Belong, originally authored by Rev. Chipps, revised by Ginny Thornburg), and a prayer adapted by All Belong, originally from “Resources for a Worship Service for the International Year of the Disabled Person”, Concordia Publishing House, 1981.

Spanish version: Letania ecumencia y Oracion

allbelong.org/about-us/who-we-are/ explains our theology of inclusion. We invite you to review and share with other leadership in your churches and ministries. An expanded version is also available on pages 3-4 of our accreditation standard at allbelong.org/standard.

Specifically thinking about persons with intellectual disabilities, but with many applications to everyone, this PDF offers Scriptures in the context of life with disabilities.

Mental Health

Learn from Dr. John Swinton, author of Finding Jesus in the Storm: The Spiritual Lives of Christians with Mental Health Challenges

See our Circle of Congregations page for a Q&A session with Dr. John Swinton, professor of theology at King’s College, Aberdeen University, Scotland, on the current situation and the church’s place in supporting those with mental health challenges.

A Study Guide to accompany John Swinton’s book, Finding Jesus in the Storm, developed by the CRCNA Disability Concerns.

Useful as a personal guide to accompany the book, or as a group study, or as the basis for a learning & discussion series about mental health challenges

Vertical Habits and Mental Illness in Worship story images

Vertical Habits and Mental Illness in Worship

An article by Joan Huyser-Honig of CICW.

 

Blog post (on Key Ministry’s blog, written by All Belong’s Victoria White): Creating Belonging: Rethinking Cultural Contexts and Mental Health

A webinar by Key Ministry, with Victoria White: Expanding Belonging: How the Church Can Lead Changes in Perceptions of Mental Health Challenges from Key Ministry on Vimeo.

 

 

Dr. John Swinton shares key ideas about the church’s role in supporting mental health (5 minutes):

His book, Finding Jesus in the Storm: The Spiritual Lives of Christians with Mental Health Challenges is a deep look at the complexity of life with mental health challenges and the simplicity of acting kindly as the church.

 

Dr. Steve Grcevich’s book Mental Health and the Church provides guidance on building a ministry of inclusion for persons with mental health challenges.

See their learning courses for ministering well with persons with mental health challenges, including a course focused on race, faith and mental health, and a course specifically designed for Catholic believers.

Grace Alliance’s Thrive workbook is an excellent guide to renewing faith and wellbeing. Grace groups and information about other resources are also available on their website.

Dr Steve Grcevich, founder of Key Ministry provides informative training in the area of mental health ministry in this video series.

Mental Health First Aid is an excellent resource and training for anyone who may be called upon to support people with mental health challenges.

Mental Health & The Church, the ministry of Kay Warren abounds with strategy, videos and story for you to utilize.

This Well-Being survey (adapted from Panorama’s student well-being survey) can be used by and with anyone in your community. Utilize it as a framework for a conversation; fill it out at small group, support group, or Bible study as a check-in for everyone.

 

Here are a few tips from All Belong’s school psychologist Dr. Sherri Rozema (1 minute) on noticing children’s well-being:

A series designed for midweek adult learning sessions, in which areas of mental health challenges are addressed. The series makes use of videos, live presentations by local experts, Scripture, and discussion. By holding a series like this, your church can become known as a place of welcome and information regarding mental health challenges. Mary Elder of Fredericktown UMC (member partner church since 2019!) began creating the series, and it became one of the Circle of Congregations’ collaborative projects, the final product is available at allbelong.org/coc.

Responsive Design: Supports for Specific Needs

Need a quick reference? Here is a two-sided printable reference focused on Sensory Differences:

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Friendship Ministries provides a page full of information for how to adapt a Bible Study (or worship service, or other settings) for the needs of participants with sensory differences, those who need support for vision or hearing, and other areas.

 

 

 

Welcoming People with Developmental Disabilities and Their Families: A Practical Guide for Congregations is another excellent guide for including persons of all abilities in your congregations. Produced by the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center, it describes resources and information on how to care for, connect with, and raise awareness for the importance of accessibility in your church service.

Need a quick reference? Here is a two-sided printable reference focused on ADHD: 1-pager on ADHD

This 23-minute section of training by Victoria White discusses what ADHD is, and some strategies to try. This is a portion of a training session on many “pink areas” -watch the whole session here.

ADHD and Your Child: Webinar by Doug Bouman, S.Psy.S. and Robert Bulten, M.D., Hosted by All Belong.

Autism: Need a quick reference? Here is a two-sided printable reference focused on ASD: 1-pager on ASD

 

What about the spiritual practices, like prayer, of persons with autism? Research is progressing in this area, thanks to the Centre for Autism and Theology at the University of Aberdeen, Scotland. Check out how persons with autism and active participants in research in this article by researcher Henna Cundill.

 

A couple of great books informing the world from perspectives that include lived experience with autism:

On the Spectrum: Bowman Jr, Daniel: 9781587435317: Books: Amazon.comOn the Spectrum; Autism, Faith & The Gifts of Neurodiversity, by Daniel Boweman Jr.

Disability and the Church - InterVarsity PressDisability and the Church: A Vision for Diversity and Inclusion, by Lamar Hardwick.

Autism Spectrum Disorder: What it is and Strategies to try in a classroom setting: Session by Victoria White (featured in NCEA conference 2021 for Catholic Schools)

Discover specific ways to identify, interact with, and teach those with autism spectrum disorder. Using six key areas of difference, this session will apply best practices to religious education settings. Participants will leave with a toolbox full of new ideas to try starting next week! Here is the handout for interacting with the content: ASD handout

You may also find this First Then schedule template, and “My School Day” schedule helpful.

Autism: A Christian Response -A training by Barbara Newman (session at NWMC).

Is your church including children or adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD)? This session will explore God’s “knitting pattern” for persons with autism spectrum disorder, discuss some of the differences you might see, and give you some practical tools for full inclusion of children and adults with ASD in the life of your church.

Need a quick reference? Here is a two-sided printable reference focused on Down syndrome: 1-pager on DS

Victoria White interviews Elizabeth Bajema, former board member of Friendship Ministries, who happens to have Down Syndrome. Hear from Elizabeth what she’d like churches to know.

Inclusion Tool Box: 52 Practical Ideas to Include Individuals with Disabilities: a training by Barbara Newman.

With some modifications, teachers, volunteers and mentors can implement low-cost tools to best support persons with disabilities – enabling them both to experience the full life of their church, while also utilizing their gifts.

This quick video introduces a strategy for helping individuals choose their course of action, and see how it leads to a specific consequence.

Do you have some kids who avoid reading or may show signs of dyslexia or other reading disabilities? If so, reading Scripture may be a challenge, and we encourage you to check out this resource: Supporting Struggling Readers with Scripture.

5 Ways To Help Teach Students With Dyslexia - EDBlog

Research in the area of Dyslexia and engagement with Scripture is progressing. Find out more in this article on research being conducted at the University of Aberdeen: “Dyslexia and Reading the Bible

The late Barbara Newman defines Responsive Design for ministry. Personalizing supports.

Barb defines RD

How the Church can be proactive about trauma occurring in the community right now: A conversation with Betsy Winkle, Director of Evaluations Services at All Belong.

This resource developed by Friendship Ministries contains information and tips you can use to support individuals in their grief:

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FM Grief resource 2021

How do you wrap around an individual or family, even beyond a crisis situation, providing long term support that ebbs and flows with their life with a disability or condition?

Our consultants would love to help you talk through starting a Wrap Around support team!

 

The below document describes briefly what a wrap-around team intends to do, and provides some questions to help get you started in finding out what the family or individual may need and want, and from whom they will receive this support.

These wrap-around teams can be comprised of people within the church, and outside of the church. Being the place that the team is orchestrated from and operates within is a huge witness to the community who will be blessed by participating in a warp-around team.

Modify this document as you need to, in order to make it useful to you. Our consultants can help you think about ways to collect and store the team members, communicate with everyone, and set up schedules, gatherings to check in and to celebrate, and talk through barriers you may encounter.

The following video is a 40-minute presentation from our 2021 Circle of Congregations Consultation, where Joy Hartman of Moran Park Church (Holland, MI) presented on Wrap-around support teams, as she learned from Barb Newman how to create them.

Seasonal Content

Are you looking for ideas for families at home over Holiday break, or fun activities to do as a church or class? See this list of Fun Ideas! Share it with others in your congregation, or try some during your online worship service!

Christmas activities during COVID and Beyond

Behavior Specialist Tiffany Crow shares ideas for getting through the Holidays at home. This recorded Member Meet-Up is packed with options to try.

Notes and links from this session are shared on the Member Church Facebook page.

Barb & Victoria thinking about Christmastime building our Faith and what might help persons with Autism, and everyone else to know the Lord more fully during Christmas

Barb’s Ideas for Church at Christmas: In this video, the late Barbara Newman shares some ideas on how to make Holiday happenings at church a little more stable for those who struggle with changes in routine.

Victoria’s Ideas for Summer Worship: preparing for changes, familiarizing kids with worshiping altogether as a family, and more.

Supporting Caregivers & Volunteers

Respite Opportunities even during lockdown: Member Churches get ideas from Nathaniel’s Hope founder Marie Kuck.

Ideas for supporting caregivers in two simple ways: a “PR” campaign (prayer and respite).

Encouraging blessings and devotions given at the Circle of Congregations:

A template Certificate of Completion which you can edit and print for your staff and volunteers who have completed trainings

Engaging Volunteers as Partners in Ministry: A dozen ideas for engaging people as partners in ministry (an elevated title for volunteers, because you want people who are passionate and equipped and are joining you in building belonging!) from ministry leaders.

 

Ideas for getting and keeping volunteers from Barb Newman:

Calvin Philosophy professor and All Belong Board Member, Kevin Timpe along with Victoria White, Church Services Coordinator and Church Consultant for All Belong share their perspectives as parents in church contexts.

Universal Design for Worship

Note 1:

The traditions during a service in which congregants participate, such as the Lord’s Supper or offering, must be accessible for people with limited mobility and vision. Some individuals may need you to simply bring the Lord’s Supper or offering basket directly to them. It is important to know the abilities of those in your congregation and the accommodations that would allow them to participate.

Note 2:

When requesting congregants to fill out a paper or write something down, offer the option for someone to fill it out for them by dictation. Alternatively, you can make the form available electronically.

Note 3:

Visuals should be accompanied with an audio narration or description whenever possible. Alternatively, you can have someone available to describe the visuals to individuals with visual impairments.

Barb Newman describes how we give options for tithing and asks if we’ve thought about giving options for other ways to participate in worship, which is what Universal Design is all about. Options!

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Download our Role Based Tips, which you can share and highlight with others in your congregation and/or ministry. Through this resource, everyone can find their role, their tasks, and learn how we can all build belonging through practical tips and tools. 

By having a few simple ideas for how each role in the congregation or ministry can create belonging and welcome for persons with varied abilities, you can make a big impact through even small changes.

Everything in the PDF is also on this webpage. As a Member, you can download the PDF for use within your congregation. If you’d like to share it with others outside your congregation, we’d love for you to send them to the webpage where they can also download the PDF (and other free resources!) after entering their email address, so we can get connected wtih them also. Thanks!

A church welcome story uses personalized elements to create a story about what may happen when someone comes to your church. By showing examples and images customized for your ministry, people of all abilities can have a clear understanding of what to expect when attending your church program.

Church Welcome Story Instructions

Church Welcome Story Example

Church Welcome Story Example Powerpoint

Church Welcome Story PPTX Template

This communion story is an example of using the Church Welcome Story format to guide through partaking in the Lord’s Supper.

Communion-Story Sample (PDF)

‘Universal design’ is now standard for architecture: we don’t want to retrofit buildings to make them accessible, we want to build them that way from the start. What would it look like for this vision to be extended to the worship services we plan and lead?

This 2-minute explanation tells about what Universal Design for Ministry means.

 

 

 

 

 

Barbara J. Newman at CICW Worship Symposium

Watch Barbara J. Newman’s one-hour presentation at the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship on Universal Design by following this link.

Congregational Intake Form: Recently updated, this is a useful tool when you need to gather some information about a child (or any individual) coming into your programs so that you can best support them. You can download the word document and edit to have your church logo, add additional children or family members, etc. This also includes a photo/video release portion, so you can have all of those details handled at one time. The document has All Belong’s name in the photo/video release so that as a partner church, you could share with us the amazing things you are doing and the people whose lives are being transformed with the Gospel, and we can share these on our platforms as well. If you wish, you can remove All Belong’s name from the form.

Spanish version:  Congregational Intake Form Spanish

Providing an overview of your time of worship may help your congregation follow long. Consider providing an order of worship, such as the examples here:

You may otherwise or also want a visual schedule. You can build one using the images in this PDF: printable two sided schedule images (printable.Laminate, and put velcro or magnets on the back if you’d like to use on magnet board or hook&loop fabric),

or use the visual schedule built for the Together Bible Study curriculum, and/or use the vertical habits icons: printable vertical habits.

Barb's Shredded Cheese Ministry

Planning worship that is accessible in a variety of ways for a variety of people is possible! Here are some ideas to get you going (35 minutes):

 

Helpful tool: The Vertical Habits. Here is a printable PDF of the Vertical Habits. Find out more about these in Accessible Gospel, Inclusive Worship by Barbara J. Newman.

 

Want to learn more? Watch this Member Meet-Up on Universal Design for Worship Planning During the Pandemic -a conversation with Satrina Reid, of CICW.

At our Circle of Congregations Consultation 2021, one of the projects presented was also experienced as a worship time. In this recording (less than 40 minutes), Amy Troyer from The Chapel in Green, and Vitoria White describe the background and elements of the worship project. All of the resources for worshiping in your setting using the guide, songs, and other materials are available on the Circle of Congregations Resource Page.

Need to figure out a way to help with transportation?golou.png

Think about people in your church joining driving teams for individuals through golou.org.