Introducing the LWML Special Ministries Committee
We are ALL fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalms 139:14a), ALL precious in [God’s] sight (2 Kings 1:13b), and ALL one body in Christ (Romans 12:5), therefore, we strive, with God’s help, to include women of ALL abilities as together we serve the LORD with gladness! (Psalms 100:2).
As women of the LWML, we serve alongside those who are deaf and hard of hearing, blind and visually challenged, and intellectually and developmentally challenged. Together we encourage ALL to be seen, heard, and understood as we share in the mission of proclaiming Christ.
Focusing on Accessibility, Awareness, and Advocacy, the Special Ministries Committee will equip women of the LWML by:
- connecting them with accessible resources.
- building awareness of those with diverse capabilities.
- providing opportunities for advocacy.
(L to R) Carmen Nagel, chairman, (Oregon District); Linda Koeller, (Missouri District); Jennifer Ceyanes (Texas District); Marilyn Schroeder (Iowa West District)
The purpose of the Special Ministries Committee is to:
- Oversee and update the LWML webpages specific to deaf and hard of hearing, blind and visually challenged, and intellectually and developmentally challenged.
- Connect the LWML Districts with the resources available through LCMS Recognized Service Organizations (RSO) working in the areas of deaf and hard of hearing, blind and visually challenged, and intellectually and developmentally challenged ministries.
- Connect the deaf and hard of hearing, blind and visually challenged, and intellectually and developmentally challenged individuals with accessible LWML resources.
- Encourage LWML Districts to appoint a Special Ministry Advocate to inform the women of different opportunities for service and fellowship with deaf and hard of hearing, blind and visually challenged, and intellectually and developmentally challenged people.
- Communicate with district advocates providing encouragement to help LWML groups welcome all women into their fellowship.
Guidelines for Possible District Structures: Special Ministries Task Force
The purpose of the Special Ministries Task Force is to connect those who may be deaf and hard of hearing, blind and visually challenged, or intellectually and developmentally challenged with Lutheran Women in Mission and encourage their participation. As every district is structured individually, two possible guidelines are available.
How do we welcome ALL people into the fellowship of believers?
As a congregation or LWML group, the following resources are tools that can discern how accessible your facility is for those with physical limitations. It will also help determine how well your congregation welcomes and accommodates for the needs of ALL people to participate in ALL ministries of the congregation. These resources are offered by The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod.
Disability Ministry Assessment Tool
An assessment tool for a congregation or local group to use to evaluate:
- Congregational Attitudes
- Educational Program Considerations
- Website Content Considerations
- Physical Access
The tool concludes with a Disability Ministry Implementation Plan you can use to prioritize the ways you can make your program and facility more accessible and available to ALL.
Improving Ministry Accessibility for Persons with Disabilities
This reference guide is intended to be used in conjunction with the “Disability Ministry Assessment Tool” and offers suggested solutions for issues raised through the assessment.
The Church is for EVERYONE
A resource to help groups understand the importance of including people of all abilities in our events.
Voice of Care
Voice of Care is a Recognized Service Organization of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod. This agency provides information on ministry with and for people of all ages dealing with all areas of disability. Their primary focus areas include: disability awareness, respite care, outdoors ministry, congregational ministry, facilities ministry, and ministry to the caregiver.
Blind and Visually Challenged
How do we welcome the Blind and Visually Challenged?
Most likely from a young age we’ve all heard the golden rule — “Do unto others as you want to be treated.” This same principle applies today to those with visual challenges, especially our LWML sisters. If you know or suspect a sister may have a visual challenge, lovingly extend an invitation to your next LWML meeting, offer a ride, and a large print copy of any handouts without drawing attention to her situation. She’ll appreciate your kindness more than you may ever realize. For your assistance LWML has provided links to LCMS resources for working with the blind and visually challenged.
Ministry to and with People who are Blind
This resource encourages “churches among the blind to be planted, leaders to be equipped, and believers to be strengthened, so that people who are blind or visually impaired may read and share the light of salvation seen through the cross of Jesus.”
Reading Suggestions for People with Disabilities
A bibliography of books and articles to aid in establishing an understanding of ministry with those who are blind or visually challenged.
Organizations Who Provide Additional Resources for the Blind:
Lutheran Braille Workers
Lutheran Braille Workers assists organizations in providing the Gospel via Braille, Specialized Large Print, and Audio formats. Also available are Large Print Mustard Seeds and Braille in Spanish.
Intellectually and Developmentally Challenged
How do you welcome the Intellectually and Developmentally Challenged people?
Intentional, personal invitations to women of ALL abilities, including those with intellectual and developmental challenges, allows them the opportunity to join you in LWML group meetings, Bible studies, activities, events, and even district gatherings. Together, you can grow in your faith, gain new friendships, and experience joy in Christian fellowship. To find resources and information about people with intellectual and developmental challenges, please visit the following websites:
LCMS Disability Ministry Resources
The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod provides many Disability Ministry resources that can help you welcome all people to worship — regardless of physical, mental, or developmental ability.
Organizations Who Provide Additional Resources for the Intellectually and Developmentally Challenged:
Lutheran Hour Ministries
Lutheran Hour Ministries provides a learning module called Face2Face: Building Relationships with People of Disabilities.
- Study and Worship: Bible studies, devotions, prayer books, confirmation materials, and an advocacy workbook that help people with disabilities grow in their faith.
- Wonderfully Made Pamphlets: Educational materials created for teachers, leaders, advocates, friends and family members who teach, lead, and support people of all abilities.
- Disability Awareness: Materials designed to emphasize inclusion for people with disabilities.
Deaf and Hard of Hearing
How do we welcome the deaf and hard of hearing?
Don’t be afraid to use gestures! Wave a big hello! Make eye contact and smile. This communicates kindness and acknowledgement to women who are deaf and hard of hearing. More visual methods of communication such as fingerspelling, a few signs, and written notes will help these women feel more included and welcome. Learn more about the Deaf community, culture, and language for further connection and understanding. At LWML events encourage providing an interpreter or other needed accommodations.
Ephphatha Lutheran Mission Society
ELMS provides educational resources specifically suited for the deaf, encourages participation from LCMS congregations, and publishes and distributes deaf ministry resources.
Lutheran Deaf Mission Society
Working with partner ministries and congregations of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, the Lutheran Deaf Mission Society provides training and resources for both Deaf and hearing Christians who bring the saving Gospel of Jesus Christ to people who use visual forms of communication.
This resource provides videos, student and teacher materials, worship resources and sign class. You will be able to study God’s Word, but also give you a way to teach and share with other people.
Bill Vicars, ASL University
American Sign Language University is a sign language curriculum and resource site for ASL students, teachers, interpreters, and parents of Deaf children. The instructional videos are by Dr. Bill Vicars of American Sign Language University.