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Ephesus Church Initiates Disabilities Ministries Emphasis
Story by Allegheny West Conference Staff; Photos by Stephanie Hun
Sharon Bowen, Ephesus’ Disabilities Ministries leader, and Pastor Donald Burden were pleased to have Anil Lewis (center), from the National Federation of the Blind, to help members better understand how to treat others with disabilities.
Ephesus church leaders Donald L. Burden, senior pastor, and Sharon L. Bowen, director of Disabilities Ministries, decided to blaze a trail in the Alleghany West Conference as advocates for persons with disabilities. In fact, the Columbus, Ohio, congregation is striving to become a state-of-the-art house of worship that will accommodate and include persons with disabilities.
Ephesus recently got their mission underway by hosting the church’s first Disabilities Awareness Sabbath, inviting Anil Lewis, director of strategic communications for the National Federation of the Blind, as their featured speaker.
Bowen reports that Lewis captivated the congregation with his words of inspiration and enlightenment and admonished people not to feel sorry for persons with disabilities. He instructed listeners to include the disabled, to give parity versus pity and not to discriminate against them because of a disability. “Recognize the ability, not the disability,” he said.
Church members were prepared with programs in Braille, persons to sign the service, reserved seating, as well as audio-visual special effects. “April is Disability Awareness Month, so what a perfect time to launch our program,” explained Pastor Burden. “This is just the beginning.”
“The Ephesus church highlighted Disabilities Ministries Day to raise awareness and emphasis on family matters and the importance of inclusion,” said Bowen. During the service, she presented Lewis with a proclamation from the Ohio Civil Rights Commission for his outstanding leadership in the area of civil rights and advocacy for persons with disabilities. And, Pastor Burden presented him an Outstanding Leadership Award from the Allegheny West Conference.
Pastor Burden commented that this special Sabbath was a first for Ephesus, adding, “It truly was a wakeup call that we all should be doing more and better in the area of disability and inclusion. We here at Ephesus will certainly do our best to make sure that any member or guest at Ephesus will be accommodated and made to feel a part of our church family.”
An Ephesus member signs the day’s message for those with hearing challenges.
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