World Council of Churches

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EDAN Pre-Assembly statement

The Ecumenical Disability Advocates Network (EDAN) in its first ever pre-assembly convocation issued this statement.

13 February 2006

Ecumenical Disability Advocates Network (EDAN) Pre-Assembly Statement

The EDAN network meeting in its first ever pre-assembly convocation of 10th - 13th February 2006, Porto Alegre Brazil, issues this statement;

Recalling with pride, the concern and initial work of the World Council of Churches on disability from as early as 1971;

Recognizing that different strategies of addressing disability concerns have been used over time in the Council;

Appreciating the evidence of God's grace in the 8th General Assembly when 10 invited advisors with a range of disabilities formed the EDAN network;

Recording with gratitude the readiness with which WCC leadership adopted the initiative as a viable new approach of working;

Noting the support that the work of the network has enjoyed from the Council and its various programme teams;

Recognizing that the church is a constituent part of a world, which has set up walls of exclusion;

Further recognizing that most people with disabilities still find themselves isolated behind walls of shame and fear, walls of ignorance and prejudice, walls of anger, walls of rigid dogma and cultural misunderstanding;

Appreciating that this situation contradicts the church's calling to be one inclusive body, a model for a transformed world;

Recognizing that the process of sensitization and conscientisation calls EDAN to redouble its efforts to this end;

EDAN reaffirms its commitment to advocate for the inclusion, participation and active involvement of persons with disabilities in all spiritual, social, development and structural life of the church and society;

And further commits itself to continue building networks in all the WCC Regions in consultation with churches, national and regional ecumenical partners, governments and other organizations interested in the promotion of the disability issues;

EDAN impresses upon its constituents that persons with disabilities share the responsibility to be agents of change, acknowledging the strength from the grace of God.

EDAN calls upon the 9th WCC Assembly meeting at Porto Alegre in 2006 to:

I). Reaffirm its commitment to disability issues and to ensure that in its agenda and mission, disability issues are treated as a cross-cutting concern in all WCC programmes.

II) Urge its constituent member churches to recognize that responding to and fully including people with disabilities is not an option for the churches of Christ. It is the church's defining characteristic.

III) And further urge them to "widen their tents" to provide space for all, ensuring that persons with disabilities are included not just as passive observers.

IV) Use its influence to challenge governments, bilateral and multilateral world structures to the need for enabling legislations and policies, inclusive programmes and services, and the recognition of marginalization of persons with disabilities as an issue of human rights and justice.

For all these concerns, EDAN prays with the Assembly "God in your grace, transform the World" so that it can be a better place for all.