Friday, May 15, 2015

There are many reasons why agencies or institutions who serve people with disabilities may be wary of working with churches who want to provide religious services for people with disabilities. Some agencies may be nervous about strict government guidelines regarding religious institutions and funding, others may have had a bad experience with church groups wanting to work with people they support or even a bad personal experience with faith. 

We know at least a few of you have had issues with connecting with organizations who support people with disabilities. We sat down with Mosaic’s Director of Government Affairs, who provided us with a few ideas about how you and your Rejoicing Spirits leadership team can help break down some of the barriers that might prevent agencies from sharing information about your worship services. Here are some of his thoughts: 

  • Provide agency contacts with some basic information about Rejoicing Spirits as a choice and option for people with disabilities who want to explore faith and community. Provide agency contacts with the ARC position on spirituality and let them know that Rejoicing Spirits fully supports the rights of people with disabilities to choose to participate (or not participate) in the faith community of their choice. ( position-statements/life-in-the-community/spirituality)
  • Emphasize that your church wants to build partnerships with the agency in question so people with disabilities are able to live full lives. The opportunity to pursue spirituality on whatever level a person desires is one aspect of living a full life. 
  • If there is a lawyer in your congregation, ask if he or she would will be willing to have a conversation with the agency contact about how the church and the agency can build mutually beneficial partnerships without jeopardizing the institution’s ability to continue to support the people they serve, financially or legally. 
  • Speak with other community members or church members to see if anyone has a connection within the agency for a meeting to discuss mutually beneficial partnerships. 
  • Find out if the agency has any other opportunities for your church to volunteer or partner with them. Demonstrating that you are committed to serving and working with people with disabilities can be a powerful tool in building mutually beneficial partnerships with agencies, as well as provide sensitivity training for your church members. 

Remember that building trust takes time, but the work is worth the effort! Contact Carrie at if you have more questions. To learn more about Mosaic’s governmental affairs office, which advocates with and for the people with disabilities, please visit online.