World Council of Churches

A worldwide fellowship of churches seeking unity, a common witness and Christian service

EDAN global meeting, Netherlands

10 October 2003

9-10 October 2003
Hotel Belmont, Ede
The Netherlands

1. MEMBERS PRESENT

  1. Rev. Arne Fritzson
  2. Rev. Dr. Abraham Berinyuu
  3. Rev. Kathy Reeves
  4. Ms. Simone Poortman
  5. Rev. Dr. Gordon Cowans
  6. Mr. Ying-Bo Joseph Tsai
  7. Ms. Sarah Babirye
  8. Rev. Micheline Kamba
  9. Rev. Noel Fernandez
  10. Ms. Razaka Manantenasoa
  11. Mr. Samuel Kabue

In Attendance

  1. Ms. Anjeline Okola
  2. Rev. Karin Fritzson
  3. Ms. Ormara Nolla
  4. Ms. Ati Poortman
  5. Ms. Vivian Ayalo

2. INTRODUCTION

This was the third EDAN Global meeting, which brought the EDAN Reference Group, Regional Coordinators and other founding members together since the inception of the Network. The purpose of the meeting was to fellowship, reflect, share experiences, present Regional reports and to plan forward as was the vision in the first meeting in December 1999 in Nairobi. The previous meeting of the kind had taken place in Cartigny, Switzerland in October 2001, which was exactly two years before. The meeting was organized to run back to back with the European Consultation entitled "For a Change" organized jointly by EDAN and the Interchurch Commission for Integration of the Handicapped—ICIG. The idea was to get the members of the Network take the advantage of meeting at that particular time and in Netherlands in order to also participate in the European consultation. The global meeting was possible through designated financial assistance from ICCO. Belmont Hotel, a Salvation Army Church facility provided an excellent venue for the meeting. It was accessible and the staff there were very friendly and helpful. Netherlands with its wide range of Air connection was also very convenient as a destination for all the participants.

3. THE OPENING WORSHIP

The opening worship was led by Rev. Kathy Reeves who read a poem from the book "Breaking Barriers" Published by Disability Concerns Group of the Christian Reformed Church in North America. After the reading, the participants were asked to reflect on the ideal Image of God's world. The responses from the participants highlighted on:

  1. Respect for one another

  2. Resources equally shared

  3. World without walls

  4. Justice Peace and Love

  5. A world where there is full accessibility in hearts and attitudes

  6. Equal treatment, where people respect one another

  7. Abilities and disabilities celebrated

  8. Equity, peace and love

Rev. Reeves then read from the Gospel of Mark Chapter 9 on the transfiguration and the healing of a boy who had a dumb spirit. She recognised that just as the chapter talks about how everyone shall be salted with fire and every sacrifice shall be salted with salt, God will give each and everyone of us the required energy to make a difference in the world. A proof of this can be reflected in the work that we do which reflects the ‘salt' symbolizing the energy that God has given each and every member present. Salt is good and makes the fire bolder and bigger. She finished by challenging all the participants to have salt in themselves and have peace with one another.

4. PRELIMINARIES

The meeting was taken through the programme appended herein, which was agreed on. Mr. Kabue then took the opportunity to thank Simone Poortman for making the meeting possible through meticulous collaboration between the ICIG and Kerkinactie. He also informed the participants about how ICCO through its funding made this meeting possible.

On the members absent from the meeting, the Consultant conveyed apologies from Ellie Rahbany who was not able to attend this meeting. Elie had confirmed his participation and all the arrangements for his travel had been finalized but he canceled these plans suddenly owing to deteriorating state of his father's health who had been sick for sometime. Apologies were also received from Ye Ja Lee who had to cancel last minute preparations too as she had to travel to Canada on behalf of her organization of which she is the President. Rev. John Naude had also sent his apologies. He could not attend the meeting because his wife was just about to have a baby.

A letter was read from Pal Gado in which he expressed his desire to retire as an active member of the Network. He indicated that having attained the age of 70, he did not feel that he could divide his energy too much any longer and had therefore chosen to give his time to a disability community that he had a leadership responsibility at his hometown. He highlighted the difficulties he had as the European Regional Coordinator due to his inability to make any impact among the Protestant churches and Orthodox churches in this particular region. As a result, he felt that he did not have any EDAN files with substantial information regarding Work in Europe to hand over. He suggested the name of Mr. Istavan Muzsnai from his country as a potential replacement. After long deliberations, it was the opinion of the meeting that this was a very crucial time in EDAN's work in Europe and that experienced leadership was necessary.

Whereas Mr. Istavan Muzsnai would as suggested by Pal be taken in as a member of the global Network, the replacement as the Regional Coordinator needed a person who had been with the Network longer and therefore able to carry on its objectives without having too spend too much time to understand its long history. Arne and Simone were asked to discuss among themselves about a potential replacement for Pal as the Coordinator for Europe and report back to the meeting.

Two other letters of importance were also presented. One was from Eva-Sibylle Vogel-Mfato the Executive Secretary, Interchurch and Women Desk of the Conference of European Churches (CEC). The letter was generally a good will message from the Conference. She expressed the willingness of the Conference to work closely with EDAN. This gesture of good will had been extended by her sending Therese Pache to represent CEC in the EDAN European Consultation, which was to follow immediately after the global meeting. Therese was also to participate in the Global meeting but there had been a mix up of dates in which case she had booked a flight to attend the European Consultation and was unable to change the booking to enable her to travel earlier than the ticket indicated. Noting that EDAN had for a long time sought to establish relationship with CEC, Eva-Sibylle's message and the representation of CEC in the European Consultation was considered a great step in the work of EDAN and especially at a time when The European Network was just about to be instituted. Eva-Sibylle had pledged in her letter to have EDAN included in the Diaconal Network of European Churches. The meeting agreed that this relationship needed to be followed up and developed.

The other Letter was from Dr. Aruna Gnanadason the WCC Coordinator of Justice Peace and Creation team under which EDAN falls. Aruna sent greetings to all the members and wished them a very good meeting. She regretted that neither herself nor anybody else from JPC Team was able to attend the meeting despite all the efforts that had been made. She was herself traveling to South Africa for another meeting and another Colleague, Mireille Gheryani who had been approached to represent the team was also unable to come. The meeting resolved to send a return message of appreciation to Aruna for her continued support to EDAN through a card signed by all the members.

5. EDAN SECRETARIAT REPORT

The Consultant presented the report of the Network since the last global meeting at Cartigny highlighting on achievements and constraints. Introducing the report, he reminded the meeting that the purpose of the global meeting was to fellowship, reflect, share experiences, present Regional reports and to plan forward as was the vision in the first meeting in December 1999 in Nairobi. Taking the meeting through the report whose full text is herein appended; the consultant outlined the background within which EDAN had operated over the period of the two years. An Outline of the achievements and future plans was given under the following areas:

1. Production and postage of the Quarterly EDAN Newsletter.

2. Eastern Africa Federation of the Disabled/EDAN Consultation

3. Theological Statement Drafting Team Meetings

4. Central Committee Meetings

5. Participation in DOV

6. Yearly Week Of Meetings

7. Reference Group Meeting

8. Other Issues And Challenges

a) Bossey Seminar:

b) Stockholm Meeting

c) EDAN Coordinators participation in Regional meetings

d) Scholarship Programme

e) Theological Anthropology

f) Risk Book

g) Ecumenical Review Publication

h) Pacific Region

i) Middle East Region

j) Conference of European Churches

k) New Zealand Conference

l) All Africa Conference of Churches (AACC) General Assembly

m) Theological Discourse in the Institutions of Learning

n) UN Disability Convention

o) Towards Porto Allegre

Responses:

Kathy thanked the consultant for a good work done. On his part, Noel said it was amazing that EDAN is still surviving given the grim picture on the finances. On the UN Convention Arne challenged the members to approach it from a philosophical angle regarding who is being set aside as there are some people with disabilities who feel the convention needs to be sensitive to all the various outlooks and should be in line with all the other conventions. He pointed out that some developed countries are against the Convention as they feel that they have already catered for their own persons with disabilities even though it is good to bare in mind that some governments are not doing much and therefore they need this convention to prompt them to act.

The meeting agreed with all the planned activities with great emphasis put on the process towards the next General Assembly. All the participants expressed hope that the financial situation of EDAN would improve to facilitate the implementation of the planned activities. Arne gave an outline of the seemingly hopeful responses that had been shown by the Central Committee. The Consultant informed the meeting that the Coordinator of JPC was making some follow up with members of the Central Committee who had shown interest in EDAN work.

The meeting agreed to send a congratulatory message to Rev. Dr. Sam Kobia for his appointment as the new General Secretary. The message was sent in form of a card, which was signed by all the members.

The Consultant's report was, after some deliberation adopted without any amendment.

6. REGIONAL REPORTS

6.1 LATIN AMERICA

Noel the Regional Coordinator gave the regional report of the Latin America, which he explained, is made up of 20 countries of which 19 are Spanish speaking Countries and 1 the largest Portuguese speaking country.

The region has diverse secular programmes that work with people with disabilities, as well as institutions and regional organizations that help towards inclusion of these persons. Several donor agencies of the so wrongly called "first world" have their area offices in Latin American and develop projects of collaboration and cooperation with government, religious and secular sectors in all Latin America. However, the different, evangelical denominations and/or Protestants and the few existent orthodox in the territory don't have significant projects with people with disabilities.

So far the following activities have been carried out at the regional level:

(i) "The first Latin American Meeting on Disability, role of the Churches and Strategies of the future" was held in Quito, Ecuador from July 18 to 21, 2001. In this meeting, a Network was constituted on which the members can share resources, experiences and results of their work in their various regions and to develop the objectives that are intended. A follow-up to this meeting was held in Sao Leopoldo Brazil from September 11th to 14th, 2002 and a third meeting is scheduled for March 2003.

(ii) "First Meeting of Christian Indigenous Blind Men in Latin America" was held in Riobamba, Chimborazo, Ecuador from 7th August to 10th August 2002. The Chimborazo province is mainly inhabited by the indigenous Quichuas who are also found in Guatemala and Cuba. This was followed up by a Second meeting of the Christian Indigenous which was held from August 7th to 9th, 2003 at the same venue which this time, formed a Network of members who would steer the other indigenous people to demand a greater role in their churches for participation.

(iii) "Second Latin American Encounter of Interpreters for Deaf and Deaf Christians" which was a follow-up of a first meeting that was held in 2000. This time the meeting was held from 18th to 22nd November 2002 at Villa Clara, Cuba. The meeting came up with an appropriate guideline for an analysis of the best ways of communication with deaf persons in relation to the Bible.

(iv) "Fourth Latin America International Conference on the Rights of People with Disabilities" This particular meeting was held in the Convention Palace of Havana in which Noel went to represent EDAN to discuss among other thing the proposed convention of Persons with Disabilities.

Responses:

Arne congratulated Noel for the good work that he has done in that particular region especially the fact that the next General Assembly will be held in Porto Allegre Brazil. Noel further informed the meeting that during the Second Meeting of Latin American Meeting on Disability, role of the Churches and Strategies of the future they paid a visit to the venue and through their influence, they have now managed to make the University accessible. Due to the close relationship that the EDAN Latin America has had with the Brazil Evangelical Lutheran Church, it was resolved that:

Resolution 1/2003: San Leopoldo Center, which is owned by the Brazil Lutheran Church, be the next venue for a Global meeting of EDAN prior to the General Assembly probably in early 2006, which is near Porto Alegre.

6.2 CARIBBEAN

The Caribbean Regional Coordinator Rev. Dr. Gordon Cowans reported of the increasing awareness of the EDAN work in this region and with it, opportunities have been provided for more focus on disability and sharing of EDAN's work.

The main link and mode of operation in this region is through the Caribbean Conference of Churches (CCC). The Coordinator represented EDAN to the Annual Regional Forum for National Councils of Churches in the Caribbean and the WCC Regional Support Group held in Suriname, South America. Great interest was generated among the participants on EDAN. The Quarterly Publication of the CCC, Ecuscope has also been provided as a vehicle for the dissemination of information relevant to the community of the disabled.

The Coordinator participated at the launch of the Decade to Overcome Violence in the Caribbean launched in Puerto Rico on May 25th 2003. Violence against individuals especially due to influx of small arms continues to be a scourge in the Caribbean as many persons become disabled after such attacks.

Early initiatives with a Jamaica-based United Theological College of West Indies (UTCWI) to begin discussions on a theological discourse for persons with disabilities have not borne fruit and the initial momentum has been lost. It is hoped that with significant progress made in the development of an interim statement presented to the Central Committee, an approach to study it among the congregations, lay leaders and clergy could impact the theological institutions in the region.

Abraham being a member of the Commission on Education and Ecumenical Formation informed the participants that the Executive Secretary of Ecumenical Theological Education is focusing on the Caribbean and Latin America towards the General Assembly. There is a lot of progress in the Spanish Speaking Caribbean and it would be good to recognize that when making the plans.

Resolution 2/2003: Ofelia Ortega be invited for discussions with theological colleges to bring in the Spanish speaking Caribbean perspective. Approach Nyambura Njoroge to include Ofelia who is the Chair of the commission in these discussions.

6.3 NORTH AMERICA

Rev. Kathy Reeves who is the North American Coordinator reported on her involvement with ministries in her local setting in Oak Park Illinois. She sited her involvement as a member of the board of directors for an organization that is known as Community Support Services Inc, which provides Respite care, which means providing supportive services for persons with developmental disabilities who either live at home with their families or live in assisted environments.

There has been a big conference that was organized by the United Methodist Church for the Deaf-Blind in which Kathy was invited.

The biggest problem being faced in the US at the moment is the fact that Churches no longer have staff persons dealing with disability issues or staff support to persons with disabilities, as they are instead interested in networking people to exchange ideas over the internet.

The National Council of Churches in the US had a meeting last year with all the staff persons dealing with issues regarding disabilities to discuss the increasing secularism that is evident amongst Persons with disabilities due to the fact that many felt rejection in their churches, making them feel as if they don't need their churches any more and instead concentrate on fighting for their rights through DPOs. The meeting agreed to set up an email network to be sharing information and create chat rooms on their websites on which people can exchange ideas.

6. 4 MIDDLE EAST

Over the course of this year, Ellie has been trying to organize for a seminar for women with disabilities in the Middle East but he has not been able to conceptualize exactly what is to be done and that could possibly take place next year. On the reference group's recommendation, the Consultant will arrange a visit once the new WCC Middle East Desk coordinator has been appointed to introduce EDAN and Ellie as the Regional Coordinator.

Resolution 3/2003 The EDAN Coordinator should visit the Middle East Region once the WCC Regional Desk coordinator is in place to introduce Ellie and EDAN. Maybe four other people in the region could be appointed to coordinate the other regions.

Ellie brings to the Network a unique perspective of a young person who is from a difficult area in the Middle East and of Orthodox tradition. He has a special challenge of coordinating EDAN work without a strong background or training.

Resolution 4/2003 Funds be sourced to give Ellie some special training on Networking or some other appropriate training that will equip him better.

6.5 AFRICA

Rev. Dr. Abraham Berinyuu gave this report with additions from Micheline Kamba, Razaka Manatenasoa and Sara Babirye.

Abraham started by giving highlights of the West African EDAN Consultation that was held in Accra, Ghana from 9th to 14th September 2002 and the follow-up that was held from 15th to 17th September 2003.The main issue of discussion was Human Rights of persons with disabilities, though most of the countries in the continent are working on a Human Rights for Persons with Disabilities' Bill. Attitudinal change hasn't taken root in the church. However he underscored the fact that there was a lot of progress between NGOs and the Civil Society. The other big problem is the lack of data on how many people with disabilities are there and services available to them.

What is perplexing in the area of employment is the fact that most companies and governments have "A right to also not employ" and "the Right to not include" who determines that? Who makes them feel you cannot be employed? The biggest challenge in the continent is how to mainstream disability to be part of life.

Micheline reported on the situation in the Africa-Francophone in which there have been a lot of wars, giving an example of her country Democratique Republique du Congo (DRC) in which 46% of the population are disabled because of war and/or AIDS. At the moment a lot of discussion is going on regarding AIDS and its effects on Persons with Disabilities. However, a lot of awareness is needed among the church leaders as is evident by their attitude towards her Ministry in which despite the fact that she is ordained, she is not allowed to celebrate communion or baptize.

Razaka, being based in South Africa, stressed the fact that though a lot has taken place in South Africa regarding the role of persons with disabilities, not much has taken place in the church circles. However, the biggest cause of disability is landmines explosion which ire brought about by conflict in this particular countries.

Resolution 5/2003 Once the person who will be taking over from Sam Kobia to work on the Ecumenical Focus on Africa is identified, EDAN should pay him/her a visit on closer working relationship especially on a campaign against landmines and its disabling effect.

Sara gave a report of the efforts that people with disability are making in her country especially in the area of legislation, as at the moment there are representatives of persons with disabilities in parliament. In churches, persons who cannot reach the altar due to physical limitations, the Minister comes down to their level to either confirm them or to offer the holy sacrament. In liaison with the Archbishop's office, she has managed to organize special Sundays in which the collection of the offering for that particular Sunday is used to make the churches accessible.

6.6 ASIA

Ying-Bo informed the meeting about the Asia Consultation that took place in Bangkok, Thailand from 10th March to 15th March. In the consultation, there were representatives from 14 countries of Asia in which they challenged the churches to recognize and focus on the abilities of persons with disabilities in all spheres; address disability concerns; use appropriate forums such as pulpits to promote public awareness on disability. Out of this meeting, a network was formed to support the CCA in its disability agenda among the churches in which Ying-Bo is the chair.

Resolution 6/2003 Contact the Japanese Council of Churches who seem to have done a lot of work on Theology and Disability from the Asian Perspective, which can feed into the Interim Statement.

Resolution 7/2003 Contact Dr. Prawate Khid-arn of CCA in regard to the CCA General Assembly and whether EDAN can be represented and also have a Plenary or Workshop.

6.7 EUROPE

Since Pal Gad had asked to be relieved of his duties as the European Regional Coordinator, the Consultant asked Arne and Simone to think through and find a solution on the coordination of Europe. After discussions between the two of them it was agreed that:

Resolution 8/2003 Simone and Arne be co-coordinators as they are both very busy and one of them alone would not manage the work. Simone will handle coordination of the region till February and then Arne will take over from her in March.

7. THE EUROPEAN CONSULTATION

The European Consultation, which was entitled "for a Change", was to take place immediately after the EDAN global meeting. It was going to be a major activity, the first one of its kind in the Region. All members of the Global meeting including those from outside Europe had been invited as guests. The main purpose of this European meeting was to build a network and to establish a structure. Simone informed the meeting that one of the expected outcome of the meeting was the establishment of a web-based newsletter to keep all those who were to attend in touch.

8. INTERIM STATEMENT

Arne Fritzson and the Consultant introduced the Interim Theological Statement to the meeting. A question was raised as to why the Statement was "Interim". The meeting was informed that the Statement is referred to as Interim because it is not an end by itself. It is meant to provoke and on going discussion, which may lead to its revision, should the issues therein demand such a revision. After much deliberation, the following emerged as areas of challenge:

1. How to ensure that there is an impact?

2. How is EDAN going to take the lead on making sure that the basic interest is there?

3. How are we going to implement any changes if we get the feedback?

The Central Committee should ensure that distribution reaches the necessary people in the Churches; Member Churches; Regional Ecumenical Organizations and Conferences; Theological Colleges; Universities and specifically the necessary faculties and interested Development Agencies.

The consultant informed the meeting of an invitation from AACC to have a Plenary on EDAN and they have requested EDAN to distribute copies during their General Assembly. World Alliance of Reformed Churches will distribute the Interim Statement and have it discussed in the Workshops. The Conference on World Mission Evangelism also intends to use it as one of the conference documents.

Resolution 9/2003 Copies of "A Church of all and for All" be printed and distributed to the EDAN Members; Member Churches; Regional Ecumenical Organizations and Conferences; Theological Colleges; Universities and specifically the necessary faculties and interested Development Agencies.

Resolution 10/2003 While sending out the statement, a letter should be written strongly to the churches, recommending it for study and feedback.

9. PROPOSAL FOR A STUDY GUIDE

The purpose of the Interim Statement is for information, which is regarding inclusion of persons with disabilities. Bible study guide should be prepared in an effort to make it consumable. The end product is an inclusive church and therefore the method used should be able to produce a multiplier effect. This being part of a larger content, should be straight to the point but to stimulate people into discussions either through individual interactions or small groups in congregations. The Consultant following discussions he had already had with Rev. Simon Oxley, tabled a proposal for a Study Guide of a Church of All and for All. After discussions, various suggestions were made:

(i) The study should be a devotional guide of 90 minutes each for four Sundays

(ii) The reference Editors should be from EDAN, who will help in setting guidelines and strategies to be used in carrying out the Bible Study.

(iii) The Content should be accessible to all including people with Intellectual Impairments.

(iv) Serialize parts of the Study guide in the EDAN Newsletter and in other Ecumenical Magazines and Newsletters.

10. THEOLOGICAL DISCOURSE IN THE INSTITUTIONS OF LEARNING

The aim of these discussions should be to meet influential people, not just in the College set-up to develop Curriculum, but also in the wider ecumenical spheres since there is more we want to achieve than just lectures, as there is a difference between learning and teaching, such as the:

(i) Faith and Order Commissioners - Follow-up by Arne

(ii) The "Journey of Hope" Network - Follow-up by Abraham

(iii) Third World Theologians - Abraham to follow it up with Prof. Waruta

(iv) International Association of Pastoral Care and Counselors - Follow-up by Abraham.

After thorough discussions it was agreed that:

Resolution 11/2003The Consultation to bring together Theologians and Deans of Studies in Theological Colleges be held late July or Early August 2004 in Nairobi, Kenya.

11. CONFERENCE ON WORLD MISSION EVANGELISM (CWME)

A letter had been written by Jacque Mathey The CME coordinator as a response to a request from EDAN on their participation at the CMWE. He was grateful that EDAN had shown interest in CMWE. He had in his response sent attached documents on the conference, which included:

- Short presentation of the conference in 2 pages

- Guidelines for nominating participants