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Ecumenical Disability Advocates Network hones vision for future

Ecumenical Disability Advocates Network hones vision for future

EDAN Reference Group and the regional coordinators meets with WCC leadership in Geneva. ©Ivars Kupcis/WCC

20 June 2017

Members of the World Council of Churches Ecumenical Disability Advocates Network (WCC-EDAN) Reference Group and the regional coordinators met in Geneva from 12-14 June to reflect on the work of the network in the last four years and plan for the next four years.

In his address to the members, Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, WCC general secretary, explored the call of churches to work for unity at a time when there are so many powers pulling the world apart.

“How do we overcome the drawing of borders in the world today? How can our unity be practised in inclusive and transformative actions that can bring hope?” asked Tveit. “There are no quick fixes to overcome the challenges facing humanity and we all have a role to play in building fellowship.”

He called on all members of the WCC- EDAN network to use the “The Gift of Being: Called to be a Church of All and for All,” the WCC statement on disability, to contribute in building fellowship in the world.

Rev. Dr Jooseop Keum, director of WCC’s Commission on World Mission and Evangelism (CWME), informed members that the CWME has embarked on integrating what it means to be a Christian today with the intention of redefining the meaning of discipleship and introducing the joy of the gospel and following Jesus.

Reviews of EDAN’s work in the last four years in all WCC regions indicated that major inroads had been made in inclusion of persons with disabilities in different aspects of the church and society. “WCC-EDAN Caribbean Region is proud of its contribution in enhancing the witness of God’s people in declaring God’s kingdom. Its collaboration with denominational, regional and international organisations of the church and other non-governmental organisations in advancing the disability agenda in the world has been trend setting,” said Rev. Gordon Cowans, WCC EDAN Caribbean regional coordinator.

Nevertheless, all members agreed that much more needs to be done to achieve a world without margins and a center, a world where all are equal. To prepare members to do this, they explored what mission form the margins means, as well as how the WCC statement entitled “Together towards Life” can inform EDAN’s work. They also received presentations from other WCC programmes namely the Commission of the Churches on International Affairs (CCIA), Faith and Order, Ecumenical Water Network, Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance, and Just Community of Women and Men, among others.

Moving forward, members of the network agreed to increase engagement with the church using “The Gift of Being” to strengthen disability discourse in theological institutions, as well as work more closely with churches and other stakeholders to ensure that the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals(SDGs) is inclusive of disability issues. EDAN leaders also agreed to widen the network’s circle by increasing the visibility of persons with invisible disabilities, standing in solidarity with persons with disabilities in Syria and other conflict areas, seeking more partnerships with other WCC programmes and ecumenical initiatives as well as ensuring effective participation in different forums such as regional and national ecumenical assemblies.

Concrete plans and proposals were presented to CWME towards ensuring that persons with disabilities are able to participate at the Conference on World Mission and Evangelism and engage with the churches on disability inclusion as part of their contribution on mission from the margins.

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