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Reference group and regional coordinators meeting, Cartigny, Geneva

05 October 2001

EDAN Reference group and regional coordinators' meeting

1-5 October 2001

Key points from Rev. Samuel Kobia, Director of Issues and Themes in WCC

  • Rev. Samuel Kobia in his speech said that WCC recognizes the difficulties EDAN has in trying to bring about awareness and understanding on the issue of Disabilities and that a lot more need to be done in this area. He pledged that WCC would listen with interest recommendations coming from that meeting and EDAN in general.
  • Citing the recent attack on the world Trade Centre and Pentagon he said that WCC recognizes the vulnerability of people with disabilities during such events of violence; for instance what happened to people with disability as everyone was running away?
  • In the face of the modern dichotomies of strong verses the weak, civilized verses barbaric, relations between races etc he pointed out that - the greatness of a nation is or should be judged by the way they treat their people with disabilities, and this include the church as well.
  • He noted that the formation of EDAN at Harare was a historical point in the way ecumenical work on disability was to go; and he promised that WCC would continue to support this work.
  • He pledged
    - that WCC will increase its efforts to provide an ecumenical enabling environment if this work is to be carried out
    - To take upon himself to do some fundraising for this work to rise up against the challenge of financial difficulties and avail funds for the planned work.
    - He reiterated that EDAN has full support from the council and the staff.

Recommendations from Abraham:

Abraham Berinyuu recommended that in future meetings there is a need to have a staff person to help and check whether things are ok and to whom the group can resort to for assistance whenever in need.


1. Latin America


There was a Latin America Consultation in July 2001. The consultation brought together nine countries from the region. It explored the relationship between the disability work done by the Church, secular organizations and the government. During the Consultation, it emerged that the Churches had not done as much work on disability issues as the secular organizations. As a result a resolution was passed for the formation of Latin American regional network to carryout disability work with the Churches.



  • The coordinator is planning a second Latin America consultation on the Disability, role of the Churches and future strategies in Brazil from 11th -14th September 2002. The realization of this will have the support of the Evangelical church of Lutheran and the Southern Diocese of the Anglican Church providing accommodations and meals and the United Bible Society will support the consultation with ground transport for the people in Brazil.

  • They will also have a consultation network meeting with the Blind Indigenous people located in the mountainous areas in Chimborazo, Ecuador in August.

  • In November there will be a meeting for the deaf Christian persons and sign language interpreters that will be held in Cuba.


2. The Caribbean



Dr Gordon Cowans reported that there has been lack of coordination between the islands and fragmentation of disability movements.


  • To workout an approach to get contacts and to develop linkages between the disability work in the various islands.

  • To create a network between the various groups i.e. the churches, the government and various boards that deal with disability.

  • Dr Cowans has also been involved in developing National policy on disability in Jamaica and he is going to find out how various policies in the respective six islands operate.

  • During the EDAN visit to the Caribbean discussions with the United Theological College of the West Indies was started. These discussions began a working relationship towards a plan and effort for theological reflections with Africa and Europe. Dr Cowans would seek responses on this issue from different denominations.

3. North America

Churches in US have started articulating disability through theological statements. There is even an association of physically challenged Ministers and they have four yearly conferences in the United Methodist church. Through these a lot of documents have been written. A lot of Churches have been doing some work and the arguments that access need not be made because there are no people with disabilities in that particular church has been going on. The secular communities felt that the Churches were not doing much. The National Council of Churches has now established an annual forum where various denominations get together to share and discuss what they are doing. This group has started working with schools of theology to start building a faith based approach to disability work. In general, people have felt less accepted by the Churches. The disability community has gone through the America with Disability Act (ADA) and has noticed that it is not quite relevant to the churches because of the separation between the Church and the society. There is a national Committee on deaf ministries.

Action points

  • Get contact of the Association of the physically challenged ministers
  • Keep in touch with the National Council of churches disability groups.
  • Get contact of the National Deaf Ministries


  • There is decline of disability work from the early 1990's as compared with the present situation and this is attributed to funding. This is something that needs to be examined.


  • Kathy Reeves noted that the globalization and market economy is relegating the justice work to less importance and this need to be taken to the churches through WCC.

  • EDAN could use what the churches and theological institutions in the US have achieved to network it with the rest of the region.

4. Middle East Region (Mr.Elie Rhaban)

The appointment of Middle East region began with the identification and subsequent appointment of Elie Rhaban as the coordinator early last year. Rhaban has so far organized several meetings including a visit to Syria to promote the network but not much has been covered as yet.


The political instability in the Middle East has been cited as a major hindrance to the disability networking. It was reported that there is no coordination of disability work between the various organizations and movements.

Action Points

  • It will be necessary for WCC to work out some networking possibilities to introduce the EDAN work in that region because there is very little knowledge about EDAN and how it functions.
  • There will be a need for EDAN to address the fragmentation of disability work and to act as a barrier-breaking frontier between the disability organizations in the region and elsewhere. The causes of these barriers should also be analyzed and addressed.

5. Africa - Abraham Berinyuu

Not a lot can be said in Africa mainly because of the heavy responsibility that the coordinator has.

Action points

  • It was noted that the secular groups dealing with disabilities were well organized in this region and ways of networking with them should be established.

  • The coordinator feels that special attention should be given to awareness on the part of the church leadership in this region. In this respect some contacts were made during the All Africa Conference of Churches (AACC) meeting and follow up to this should be made.

  • He was of the opinion that there is a need to meet with specific individuals in the church leadership since letters only ended up in files. Due to this reason the need to get the database that was prepared for the Council's of Churches and Church leadership in order to establish the right contact person was highlighted.

  • He also pointed out that access in churches and Church institutions in Africa is a major problem and there is need to create awareness on accessibility issues in this region.


  • There is language barrier between the English speaking and the French speaking sub-regions.

  • How to bring a connection/link between the issue of violence and disability.


It will be of importance to bring to the attention of the General Assembly of AACC in November the EDAN work and to establish contact points for the establishment of a regional network.

6. Europe - Pal Gado

Pal Gado began by confessing that not much has been done because he is overwhelmed by the size of the European member Churches. Pal's opinion is that in our work, we should begin with the UN standard rules on equalisation of persons with disabilities and more specifically rule 12 on how the church should organise themselves. We also have 11 countries in the European Union with whom we need to work with. They have been discussing the standard rules, which could be placed in the centre of the activities. There was a meeting in Hungary in July this year where standard rules were again the subject. As EDAN representative, the Co-ordinator admits that he has not done much. It was recommended that a consultation in Europe be organised to bring people together to discuss. Such a consultation should be held in Geneva to interest the Conference of European Churches in this respect. It is also important that Simone and Arne get involved to bring together their efforts into this work. It was also recommended that the four persons from Europe to get together at the earliest possible time for planning.

7. Asia - Joseph Ying Bo


Language barrier was identified as a major problem in the region. Not as many people from these countries can communicate in English. Those who can, are people from Philippines and Malaysia.

Action point

It would help to begin a network between the two countries (Philippines and Malaysia) and then try to extend to other countries.

  • The coordinator should contact Malaysia and try to identify a possible link person.

  • It will be necessary to re- trace addresses of the people who attended the Korea consultation with Ye Ja lee and share with Ying Bo (See appendix)

  • The coordinator should get in touch with Clazon the lady from HongKong Conference of churches who was reported to be quiet interested in disability

  • Get contact from a person from Fiji who attended the Cartigny meeting in 1995 (see appendix)


  • To have 3rd of December as a day for the Disabled in the churches to coincide with the international day of the disabled
  • To issue /release a communiqué to all churches and ecumenical organizations. This will call the churches to have some celebrations on this day.
  • Activities could include visiting people with disabilities and inviting them to participate in the churches.
  • Pal Gado will put an advert on Disability awareness Action newsletter (DAA) for people in Europe who could be interested with working with EDAN.
  • EDAN office to get materials for the International Day of Disabled on 3rd December

It was decided that there is a need for the EDAN network to contribute articles and issues to the various publications of WCC like the Ministerial Formation and EDAN newsletter and Mr.Samuel Kabue was requested to give deadlines for submission.

There is need to bring together representative of St Paul's United theological college, United Theological College of West Indies and Stockholm School of Theology to start a discourse on implementation of disability studies.


The meeting emphasized the need for EDAN to participate in DOV activities. The consultant was asked to pursue the participation of EDAN in DOV committee. The name of Razaka from Madagascar was suggested and if he is not available Kathy Reeves to take her place as a representative of EDAN in DOV committee if the request is accepted. Other committees like women, youth and indigenous people were encouraged to involve the participation of EDAN.

Rev Micheline Kamba was requested to report to EDAN on the disability concerns that arise at the women advisory group in which she is a member.

It was also put forward that a database should be worked out in regard to capacity of the EDAN members in order to establish where they could best represent EDAN. It was said that it is important for EDAN and WCC to start a lobby for people with disability to be represented in the General Assembly preparation committee.

It was found necessary for EDAN office to notify the regional coordinators of any organizations in their regions which the EDAN office get in touch with. It was also clarified that the objectives of EDAN and WCC mission include services to all persons with disability and not just those in churches.


There will be a padare offering during central committee meeting of 2002. It was agreed that Gordon would lead the deliberations.

The whole idea of padare goes back to the idea of majoritarian decision making. This was something the orthodox was not easy about. They were not for this form of decision making. The idea of discussion and reaching consensus was what they favored. Although padares do not make decisions, they provide space for members of central committee to bring their experiences and views from their churches and have them discussed in small forum. Padare is not a place to make position but rather, it is a place to stimulate discussion. It is necessary therefore that sharp questions be formulated to stimulate discussion. Presentations are not more than five minutes and it is necessary to identify three or so members to be prepared to come and take part in the discussions incase there is difficult in opening it up. Padare is a sensitizing moment and does not feed into decision making but it stimulate thinking.

The preparatory process for the interim statement provides a period for people to think through the topics.


  • It was suggested that an Orthodox person be invited to the Padare and the name of George Tsetsis was recommended.

  • That the visibility of People with disability should be encouraged in all the meetings of WCC.

  • There was a case to request an increased number of people who can have input in to EDAN work. It was suggested that it is important to have as much interaction with members of central committee as possible.

  • Another strategy that was suggested was for EDAN network members to ensure they make courtesy calls to members of central committee during visits to their regions.

  • Question about the presence of Samuel Kabue as an advisor was raised. It was agreed that he would take up with Aruna the request to have three advisers and Samuel Kabue as a member of staff at this Central committee. The idea will be to try to involve central committee members in as much work of EDAN as is possible. Invitation could also be extended to known church leaders.

Theological Reflection Process*

It was resolved that it was necessary to make the interim theological statement in time to help formulate good questions for the padare. Aruna Gnanadason was requested to ensure that the padare on human sexuality does not take place at the same time with the one on disability as it would cause serious competition and moreover confusion to Dr.Allan Falconer who need to attend the two meetings. It was agreed that Aide Memoir on the proceedings of the theological reflection aspect of the Geneva meetings from Dr. Falconer be circulated by 20th October 2001 and comments by members to be received by Allan by 5th November2001. In the light of these comments Allan will try to identify the themes to be tackled and ask drafters to prepare an initial text of the draft by20th November 2001 with the expectation that each drafter will produce his or her text by 31st January 2002. The drafters will examine the coherence of the text and it will be circulated to every member of the drafting group by 15th February 2002. The comments from these drafters on the coherence of the text will be due by 28th February 2002. The comments will be gathered and incorporated so that the whole group attending the conference in Cartigny will receive an initial text around 10th March 2002 and comments from everybody will be expected by 10th April 2002. These comments will be shared by drafters probably at a meeting in London, NewYork or Toronto from 4-5th May 2002. The text will be worked on within three days and perhaps with involvement of Mr. Samuel Kabue and this will be shared with the members of the Cartigny meeting by the end of May. Out of this it is hoped that appropriate questions will be formulated for the Padare session of central committee in September 2002. All members having received the second version of the text at the end of May 2002, are asked to send their comments by the end of August 2002 so that these comments, along with any ideas collected at Central committee, will form the basis of the revised text, prepared in time for the Bossey seminar in November 2002.



Bossey seminars are normally organized through corporate effort between WCC staff and Bossey. The purpose of Bossey Seminar is to stimulate the theological discourse and to continue it. The advantage of these seminars is that they allow broad and in-depth intellectual engagement, which can take place without any commitment. It allows an inter-disciplinary process on an issue. Bossey gives a place for an integrated approach to various issues on which the seminar is centered. In respect to Bossey seminar on disability this could bring an integration and provide discussions with carers, doctors, people with disabilities, theologians and other sectors like WHO, Red Cross, YWCA, Human rights organizations etc.

During planning it was made clear that Bossey Institute will not be available since renovation work is in progress and a hotel near Bossey is being considered as an alternative. The meeting decided that:

  1. Aruna will maintain communication with Bossey Institute in respect to Bossey seminar.
  2. All those present in Cartigny meeting will be invited as the drafting committee for the statement.
  3. In drawing up the list of participants we should follow classification given in Aruna's communication to Bossey and also include people from specialized organizations like WHO, Red Cross, YWCA, Human rights organizations etc
  4. The dates for the seminar will be 25th -29th of November 2002.
  5. JPC/ EDAN, Faith and Order and Bossey Institute will make the financing of the seminar. Lutheran World Federation may be requested to contribute.
  6. Rev Dr. Alan Falconer, the EDAN consultant, a representative of Bossey and Aruna to deal with details of who to be invited and other logistics of the meeting.

The description which appears in the Bossey Literature is that the seminar would be called "Towards a theological statement on disabilities and the church" to bring together 30 members of the disabled community, family members, medical care providers, church leaders and theologians including a drafting group that has been working on a second interim theological statement to be taken to churches. That statement which is being drafted with the cooperation of Faith and Order will provide a framework for the advocacy and pastoral role the churches need to play in the changing environment. As part of conscientisation it may be helpful to write to churches as to how they are working with persons with disability. It was recommended that major groups should be represented and as far as possible to include those with hearing impairment. It was suggested that a secular disability group could also be involved. DPI president Joshua Malinga was suggested as he is involved with a secular disability movement and he is also sensitive to Church concerns. It was felt that it is important to have a planning group of Aruna Gnanadason, a Bossey representative, Alan Falconer and Samuel Kabue.

Speech given by Marta Palma head of WCC regional desk

Marta Palma in her speech said that the reason for area secretaries is the recognition that regions are different and they bring varied experiences. The task of the team is to relate with the national council of churches and the networks in the regions. In the regions they facilitate dialogue between Churches and regional ecumenical organizations etc. The current trend is to improve the way the team relates with the regions. She said that another aspect of the work of the team is to strengthen ecumenical sharing of resources and diaconia. They collaborate with networks in responding to specific issues. The idea is to fully integrate these networks to improve the ecumenical work in the regions. EDAN is helping the church to understand diaconia and this is within the mandate of the team. The team is trying to organize a process to dialogue on diaconia that involves the WCC constituencies. EDAN work could be incorporated in to this process. She added that it is necessary to have clear avenues of sharing information so that everyone can share in the work. She also said that one of the priorities of the team is capacity building for work and is carried out with the help of various networks.


  • To get in touch with a staff of Asia conference who addresses disability. The area secretary to assist in networking with this staff to establish a network in this region and possibly have a consultation there.
  • There is need to bring about connection of EDAN and the interfaith desk to encourage discourse with disabled people of other faiths.
  • That the EDAN consultant comes to Geneva to have a meeting with the desk secretaries in the week of meetings.
  • EDAN Coordinators to be invited to meetings of desks in the regions to help with awareness raising and capacity building.
  • A full resolution was made that there be working relationships with the regional desk in the area of capacity building and ecumenical relationships.

Speech on Scholarship by Tara

She reported that scholarship is there for the churches and its members and it provides for theological and non-theological education. Theological education is at postgraduate level. Tara said that there were a lot of funds for developmental studies than there was for theological studies. The education commission has two EDAN members - Rev Dr. Abraham Berinyuu and Rev Kathy Reeves, and this provide a direct way of influencing the commission. Tara added that the regular system of admission is that the National Correspondence receives and screens applications and then forward s them to WCC. It was however noted that information on these scholarships does not get to people with disabilities. EDAN was urged to identify people and pass them on through the structure. It was recommended that should the network consider the established structure not favorable for the disabled and therefore need for changes communication should be made through writing. Another way for of disseminating this information was identified as using the EDAN newsletter.


This is a process in which there will be two consultations to reflect on theological reflection on the image of God.


  • Two consultations are planned for next year-end of February in Jerusalem and the year after in Elpaso Texams.

  • It was recommended that John Hull from Birmingham to be invited to the first consultation in Jerusalem as a representative of EDAN

  • All members were encouraged to start collecting any theological materials they can lay their hands on. Dr. Cowans was requested to work out a strategy for collecting these materials and then circulate it.


It was agreed that EDAN should write a Risk book to be ready for 2006 General Assembly. Discussions on this and the identification of a writer should start immediately with Aruna.


It was recommended that contribution in the ecumenical review should cover the theological process in which we are involved. EDAN should commission articles for this purpose and Aruna should be made aware of this. Contribution on this should l be made to the review of 2003.

*Summary of the program for the drafting committee:

  • 20th October 2001 - Circulation of the Aide Memoir to the EDAN members by Dr Allan Falconer

  • 5th November 2001 - Comments from members to be received back by Allan Falconer

  • 20th November 2001 - Drafters to start making the initial text of the draft

  • 31st January 2002 - Each drafter to submit his/ her draft

  • 15th February 2002 - These drafts to be circulated to each member of the drafting team to compare and contrast.

  • 28th February 2002 - Comments from the drafters on the coherence of the text will be due.

  • 10th March 2002 - Everyone attending Cartigny meeting will receive the initial text.

  • 10th April 2002 - Comments from everyone will be due

  • 4 - 5th May 2002 - Drafters will discuss the comments at a meeting in UK.

  • End of May 2002 - The text will be worked on and will be shared with members of Cartigny meeting.

  • End of August 2002 - Comments from the members and those from the Central committee on this second version of the text will be received.

  • September 2002 - Out of this, appropriate questions will be formulated for the Padare session of Central Committee on this date.

  • November 2002 - The revised text will be prepared to be ready on this date.


Participants in the EDAN Reference and the consultation meeting:

1. Rev Kathy Reeves 405 South Euclid Avenue
Oak Park Illinois 60302, USA
Email: sermonista (at)


2. Rev.Arne Fritzson
Svartriksslingan 94
16739 Bronna, SWEDEN
Email: arnef (at)

3. Rev. Dr Gordon Cowans Knox College
P.O Box 1735, Spalding Clarendon
Email: gcowans (at)

4. Rev. Dr. Abraham Berinyuu
Centre for Peace & Sustainable Democratic culture
P.O. Box1276 Tamale, Ghana
Email: alspc (at)

5. Dr. Pal Gado
Jozsef A, u. 7-9, HUNGARY
Email: (at)

6. Rev. Noel Fernandez
Chicho Valdes 423
Entre 3y4
Ciego de Avila
65100 CB. CUBA

7. Elie Rhaban
Street Stouh, Imm.Khalil
Email: e_rahbany (at)

8. Ying- Bo Joseph
Tsai 4F, No.250, Chung Hua
2nd Road, Kaohsiung. TAIWAN
Email: disable (at)

9. Hilary Wilson
11 Ascroft Road
Liverpool L9 0LL

10. Mr. Samuel Kabue
National Council of Churches of Kenya
P.O Box 45009 Nairobi. KENYA
Email: or
Ncckadv (at)


11. Carolyn Thompson
119 Pleasant Street Arlington
MA 02476  / USA
E-mail mysticamper (at)

12. Francis Young
e-mail: fm.young (at)

13. Dr Wolfgang Grieve
Lutheran World Federation
150 route De Ferney
P.O .box 2100
CH- 1211 Geneva 2

14. Ms Kristin Roaldseth
Lutheran Wold Federation
150 route De Ferney
PO box 2100
CH 1211 Geneva 2

15. Rev Dr Graham Monteith
2013 Grandfield

16. John M. Hull

17. Edna Monteith
2013 Grandfiled
EH6 4TL Scotland

18. Rev Dr Allan Falconer
WCC Faith and Order
150 route De Ferney
PO box 2100
CH- 1211 Geneva 2

19. Wyne Morris Chad
50 Scrutton Street