by the Rev. Kelli Parrish Lucas
The United Church of Christ Disabilities Ministries (UCCDM) encourages all settings of the UCC to be Accessible to All (A2A).
So, what makes a church A2A? Enlisting the help of UCCDM is a great start. The first step is the Church Building and Program Accessibility Audit—a tool to help local congregations determine how accessible their programs and buildings are. After all, accessibility is more than just having a ramp at your church. The audit can be completed online, or you can download and print a PDF version or Word document, both of which are available in large print.
Once a congregation completes a building and program audit and has identified how to become more (or continue being) inclusive of people with disabilities and/or mental health concerns, they may be ready to become A2A.
The next step in this process is to complete an A2A Checklist. Revised this year, it (like the audit) can now be completed online. A PDF version (in 12-pt. and large print) are also available.
Both the Church Building and Program Accessibility Audit and A2A Checklist can be found on www.uccdm.org, the UCCDM’s website.
At least 10% to 15% of UCC local churches are engaged in plans for construction or renovation. Most of these situations have an accessibility component to their building plans. Often, the changes they need to make in order to be A2A are costly. When attempting to borrow money from traditional financing sources, churches have long been challenged by disinterested financial institutions.
Here’s some good news: funding resources are available to assist churches. The Cornerstone Fund works with many local churches who need to borrow for renovations—including those that will increase accessibility.
Be sure that if your church is looking for funding, you first inform UCCDM of your anticipated accessibility renovations and costs, and they will be willing to offer suggestions.
Once a congregation completes the A2A Checklist, they are added to the A2A Listing and become a sacred space in their community that extends a most extravagant welcome!
The Rev. Kelli Parrish Lucas is UCCDM Chair (2015-2017). She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.