Widening the Welcome


Dear Friends:

The next Southwest Conference UCC Widening the Welcome Team Ministry meeting will be held this Saturday, October 3, 2015, 1:00 PM. Room #5, First Congregational UCC Phoenix.  The speaker for our meeting will be Rev. Rich Doerrer-Peacock.  He is an ordained United Church of Christ minister and a Widening the Welcome Team Ministry participant.  He will be sharing his personal mission statement with us: "Creating Christ-like Connections across Cultures" / "Crear conexiones de Cristo a traves culturas".  His dominant "cultures" have been the Hispanic community, people with mental illness, and people without homes.  He would like to share what that was like for him at South Mountain Community Church and now at Primera Iglesia Metodista Unida.  His basic "tools" have been listening, being present, discerning God in the midst, and setting up boundaries of what he can and cannot do using his experience in Al-Anon.

Lisa Roger, our speaker last month, led a discussion of Accessible to All at the First Congregational UCC Phoenix that included two members of Widening the Welcome team Ministry, Debe Knaack and Robert Koth.  These action items can be a starting point for implementing the "Any Body, Every Body, Christ's Body" in your congregation.

  1. Partner with the Mental Health Task Force Team to utilize the first section of the "Any Body, Every Body, Christ's Body" document to create worship service pieces and a study group (with Pastor James' permission perhaps incorporate into a future Thursday Spiritual Development session)
  2. Partner with other SWC churches to promote congregation member delegate participation when the Widening the Welcome team presents at the next SWC Annual Meeting.
  3. Talk to Nelson Mendoza about including some of the "Any Body, Every Body, Christ's Body" dialogue at a future Theology Uncorked.
  4. Piggy back on the popular film series already in place at First Church and show one of the films suggested in "Any Body, Every Body, Christ's Body" - follow up with a discussion group.
  5. Suggest that the Worship and Music team review the list of Multi-sensory worship ideas to see if there are more ways to fully embrace all in our worship service.  (We are already utilizing many of them in our worship service).
  6. Share the Usher education guidelines in "Any Body, Every Body, Christ's Body" and consider adding them as a policy for all future usher instruction.
  7. Create an interactive moment highlighting disability awareness for a future worship service.
  8. Create handouts and place articles in our newsletter concerning disability issues.
  9. Partner with the First Church Mental Health Task Force Team to participate in Mental Health (http://mhn-ucc.blogspot.com/p/mental-health-sunday.html) and Access (http://uccdm.org/programs/access-sunday) Sundays.
  10. Work with Tom Greiner and rest of the Green Team to prioritize and create budgets for disability driven facility changes.

Your input on these suggest action items is encouraged.

For more information, contact Robert Koth.

SWC WtW Team Ministry September 12, 2014 Minutes [PDF]


The resolution Called to wholeness in Christ: Becoming a church accessible to all (2005 General Synod) called for all churches to extend an 'extravagent welcome' to those with physical, mental and developmental disabilities.

Congregations and individuals in the Southwest Conference are working to be accessible to all (A2A).

Called to Care Coordinating Council

Meets: Fourth Sunday of each month at 12 PM 
Location: First Congregational UCC, Phoenix, Anthony Lounge

Called to Care Coordinating Council is a disability ministry for caregivers of children and adults with special needs, either serious mental illness or developmental disabilities.  

Sponsored by First Congregational UCC and facilitated by Robert Koth, their purpose is to create a caring community that provides support services for caregivers. They also provide assistance to other ministries, such as the Multi Functioning Families Group at Shadow Rock UCC.  

The Council has found the publication, Mental Illness & Families of Faith: How Congregations Can Respond [PDF] by Susan Gregg-Schroeder, a helpful guide for both forms of disability.

The Five Step Program proposed by this manual consists of Education, Covenant, Welcome, Support, and Advocacy

For Education, they plan monthly speaker meetings to address caregiver issues. 

Covenant refers to their commitment to care for ourselves, families, and wider world. 

Welcome is facilitated by facility accommodations, and worship and Christian education inclusion. 

They encourage participants to get involved in Support groups such as those sponsored by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and Alcoholic Anonymous (AA). 

Due to the erosion of the support systems for people with disabilities, especially state budget cuts for essential services,
they see the need to form partnerships with Advocacy organizations such as NAMI. 

If you are a caregiver of children or adults with special needs, you are welcome to join us. 

For more information about this group and assistance with starting your own support group, email Robert Koth or call him at: 602-284-4159.


Read Robert Koth's report on the national gathering.

"Widening the Welcome: Inclusion for All" [PDF]

Mental Illness & Families of Faith: How Congregations Can Respond by Susan Gregg-Schroeder [PDF]
A resource/study guide for clergy and communities of faith.

Mental Health Ministries [Link]
A resource site that helps faith communities become caring congregations.

Ten steps for developing a Mental Health Ministry in your congregation [PDF] 
Downloadable resource, written by Joanne Kelly and Alan Johnson

Mental Illness Network [Link]
The Mental Illness Network ministers to the need for families and others to communicate among themselves about their experiences as families, and in congregations. Links on the site include: The Mental Illnesses, Possible Signs and Symptoms, The Network's Major Concerns, What You Can Do, Resource Materials and more.

United Church of Christ Disabilities Ministries [Link]
This site has news, resources, networking links and more to help congregations explore and become accessible to all. The Rev. Dr. Dosia Carlson, a member of Church of the Beatitudes in Phoenix and the wider United Church of Christ Disabilities Ministries community has contributed several stories on this site.