Americans with Disabilities Act 25th AnniversaryThis July marks the 25th anniversary of the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life, including jobs, schools, transportation, and all public and private places that are open to the general public.

Written by Terry Chaney, member at First Presbyterian Church in Birmingham, Mich. On Aug. 3 our Rejoicing Spirits team tried the experiment using the Rejoicing Spirits service as our Sunday morning worship service. Tracing the ripples has been both more interesting and thought provoking than I had initially anticipated. We did the service, including an older skit, at both of our services. The first, our 8:30 a.m. service, is attended mostly by older members but it also includes some of the strongest backers of Rejoicing Spirits. Although I personally was a bit concerned at how they would react, I greatly underestimated their collective imagination and willingness to embrace something different.
One of our goals this month is to start scheduling short phone conferences between host sites and the Rejoicing Spirits support team. We hope these 45-60 minutecalls will give host site leaders the opportunity to gather together, share ideas, struggles and victories and much more. Host site leaders, please watch your email for invitations to set up phone conferences. Congregations who are unable to participate in phone conferences will be required to fill out the annual survey. Please email carrie.gubsch@mosaicinfo.org with questions.
Representatives from Mosaic and Rejoicing Spirits will host a portion of the proclaim community space at the 2015 Youth Gathering of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) in Detroit, Mich. Our booth will provide students and adults who attend with the opportunity to experience some of the daily activities of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Participants will also have the opportunity to advocate for full inclusion of people with disabilities by becoming a part of a social media mosaic of awareness.
In 1913, the American philosopher Josiah Royce wrote, “My life means nothing, either theoretically or practically, unless I am a member of a community.” Royce observed that, besides the actual communities we experience on a daily basis, there was also an ideal “beloved community” made up of all those who would be dedicated fully to the cause of loyalty, truth and reality itself. Royce founded the Fellowship of Reconciliation, a movement that was later joined by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
March was declared Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month by President Ronald Reagan in 1987. The proclamation urged all Americans to join the President “in according our fellow citizens with such disabilities both encouragement and the opportunities they need to live productive lives and achieve their full potential.”
After more than six months of work, we’re pleased to announce a new version of rejoicingspirits.org. The website has been updated to reflect Rejoicing Spirits' new identity as a ministry of Mosaic and our goal of expanding the ministry to more host sites. Even though the website has changed, our vision of ensuring that people with intellectual and developmental disabilities have the opportunity to explore and express their faith remains the same.
March is National Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Month. We hope you will join Rejoicing Spirits in a month of prayer and awareness for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities online and in your faith communities. Our February resource email will focus on helping host sites lift up the gifts people with disabilities have and are to the church and society, but we could use your help to make this happen. We’re asking congregations to do one or more of the following things: