Ella M. Roush
From September 24 to 26, Peaceful Living will hold its biennial conference on honoring a place for people with disabilities and their families in the faith community. This year’s theme is “The Divine Power of Friendship.” In addition to presentations by renowned experts in the disabilities field, representatives of seven congregations will share their journey over the past two years as part of a Congregational Coaching pilot project. They signed on at the conclusion of the 2008 “Honoring a Place” conference, agreeing to work together to foster inclusion within their congregations with assistance from Loretta Moyer, Peaceful Living’s Congregational Coach. Since then, these faith communities – including several Christian denominations, a Jewish synagogue, and a Hindu temple – have been confiding in one another on the successes and challenges of inclusion. On September 25, they will recount their valuable experiences and invite more faith communities to join them.
Internationally known ethicist Hans Reinders, Ph.D., will provide the keynote speeches on September 24 and 25 at Souderton Mennonite Church and a sermon on September 26 at Salford Mennonite. Dr. Reinders is the Willem van der Bergh Professor of Ethics and Mental Disability at the Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam. He is the author of “Receiving the Gift of Friendship: Profound Disability, Theological Anthropology and Ethics,” published in 2008. Dr. Reinders is the parent of a child with a disability.
Friday’s schedule will target professionals involved in the delivery of care for people with disabilities. These professionals include CEOs, directors, direct care staff, state and county agency staff, and Individual Service Plan (ISP) teams. Dr. Reinders will discuss the application of ethics to workplace dilemmas. He will also explore the gift of friendship for people with disabilities. During the breakout session, attendees will discuss and begin to develop a practical implementation plan based upon Hans’ teaching. Alternatively ISP teams may apply learning directly to the creation of an ISP.
Saturday will be geared toward faith community staff and lay leadership as well as people with disabilities and their families. Keynote speeches and workshops will offer tips, tools, and wisdom on developing or continuing your congregation’s progress toward becoming a community that truly welcomes people with disabilities and taps into the unique gifts they bring. A distinct track, led by Dr. Ed Tick, author of “War and the Soul,” will offer guidance on developing a ministry to veterans. Twenty-four practical breakout sessions are available from which attendees may choose three to attend.
Saturday evening will feature a celebration of Peaceful Living’s 10th Anniversary to be held at the Franconia Heritage Restaurant. All are welcome to help us honor those who have made possible this decade of growth. An auction of artwork made in Peaceful Living’s Creative Gifts Program will take place at the dinner.
On Sunday Dr. Reinders will deliver the morning sermon and lead a discussion of it during the Christian Education Hour that follows the sermon.
All facilities used throughout the conference and accompanying activities are handicapped accessible.
Learn the full details of the conference by visiting www.peacefulliving.org. Check out the Peaceful Living Friendship Pilgrimage Blog on the website as well.