World Council of Churches

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

EDAN reference group meeting 2005

Lidingo Conference Center, Stockholm, Sweden

01 January 2005

Lidingo Conference Center
Stockholm, Sweden


Ms. Alden started by welcoming the EDAN Reference Group to Sweden before informing them that SWEDISH ORGANISATIONS' OF DISABLED PERSONS INTERNATIONAL AID ASSOCIATION (SHIA) is a Swedish Disabled Persons Organisation started in 1981 during the International Year of Persons with Disabilities (IYDP) by the main 26 organisations representing all the major disabilities in the country. However SRF and SDR which are the oldest had started lots of global networks in Africa through sister organizations. TA the moment they are active in 30 countries with 100 projects. Most of the programmes are in the area of Capacity Building of disabled people's organization. They also help in building branches national, regional and local.

Some of the issues they deal with are:

  • Poverty and survival were the key issues in most of the countries to build their esteem.

  • Awareness and coordination on disability work projects

  • Individual support in the form of education and training.

  • Awareness raising of Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP) at national levels in developing countries.

  • Right based way of thinking towards HIV/AIDS

  • Involvement in the UN Ad Hoc Committee on the Convention and popularization of the UN Standard rules.

  • Working closely with the government and SIDA on donor relations, bilateral and multilateral relations.

  • Since Sweden gives 0.8% of their GDP to foreign aid, SHIA has entered into a framework agreement with the government to coordinate the national plan of action on persons with disabilities in the financing of development work in developing countries.

  • They also bring together the various regional organizations and link them to their partners.

Wednesday, 23rd to Friday, 25th February


1. Devotions and Reflections


2. Review of the reports of the March 2003 Reference Group meeting and the October 2003 EDAN Global net meeting in Netherlands:

  • Stockholm Consultation
  • WCC Scholarship Programme.
  • Disability Bibiliography.
  • Pacific Region.
  • Middle East Region.
  • Asia Region
  • Conference of European Churches and the European Region.
  • Participation in Regional meetings.
  • Participation in the DOV activities.
  • Participation in other Commissions.

3. Report from the office since the Global net meeting of October 2003:

  • Relations with AACC.
  • EDAN Newsletter.
  • Risk Book.
  • UN Disability Convention.
  • Theological Statement—printing and distribution
  • Disability discourse in theological institutions.
  • Participation at the AACC General Assembly.
  • Computer training for the blind.
  • Participation at the WARC assembly.
  • Consultation on disability and globalization.
  • Participation at the Pan-African Disability movement.
  • Participation at the WCC Week of Meetings.
  • Finances.

4. The WCC 9th General Assembly to take place at Porto Alegre, Brazil in February 2006:

  • Participation at the 9th General Assembly.
  • The disability Pre-assembly.
  • Participation at the Women and Youth Pre-assemblies

5. EDAN beyond Porto Alegre:

  • Self evaluation of EDAN.
  • Strategic plan

6. Interactions with Swedish organizations. (Programme to be drawn by Arne Fritzson).

7. Any other Business.


There had been discussions during the meeting of the reference group and the regional coordinators in 2000 that EDAN holds an activity at Stockholm School of Theology to help influence Theological Education's curriculum to include disability studies. However funding was not available after WCC was unable to raise the $70,000 that had been budgeted for. However in the Reference group of Bangkok we agreed that we could still go on with the work and Arne was charged to fundraise with Swedish churches. The agenda was to pretest the interim theological statement and the theological discourse.

Arne promised to continue discussions with the church of Sweden but the group felt that there should be a change of the agenda, time and situation.

Resolution: we still have other issues such as the follow-up of the meeting held in Limuru and the evaluation of the statement therefore the meeting can still go on as scheduled. Arne instead suggested that to widen our participation of theological colleges we could seek for funds though SIDA to any third world countries.

After further discussions, it was decide that after the 2006 general assembly, the executive secretary should start discussions with the Church of South India to have a seminary there host a follow-up meeting to the Limuru one to have an agenda of influencing the usage of curriculum; evaluation since Limuru ; relooking theological statement and how it has affected the church.


The meeting of the Disability Discourse for Theological Institutions was held in Limuru from 14th - 22nd August 2004 with representation from The Workshop, whose primary objective was to deliberate on strategies for mainstreaming disability issues in Theological Institutions, was attended by thirty participants from Africa, Asia, Caribbean, Europe, South America and North America. The WCC was represented by Dr. Nyambura Njoroge of the Mission and Ecumenical Formation Team ( MEF). The Workshop was jointly sponsored by the MEF and Diaconia and Solidarity Team both of the WCC while St. Paul' United Theological College, Limuru and EDAN hosted and organized the Workshop, As a follow-up to this meeting, the group promised to give some guide notes on the curriculum that has been designed as not so many books have been written in this field. The designed curriculum needs to be studied a little more and look at the people who can write articles. A pre-test of this curriculum will be done by Theological colleges in East Africa and others in West Africa in the coming months.


Ms. Tara Tautari the WCC Scholarships coordinator, was present during the last meeting of the reference group and coordinators in Cartigny at which she appointed EDAN as a correspondence/recommending body. However the Executive Secretary reported that so far no letter or documents to confirm this to fully enable EDAN be what it has been appointed to be have been received by the office. Micheline Kamba has applied for a scholarship and has been recommended for by EDAN.


Gordon Cowans was to set-up a bibliography together with Arne but however this didn't take place and therefore the group felt that since Arne already had a bibliography that he has compiled and Caroline too has a bibliography that she had compiled before while doing her studies.

Resolution: Arne and Caroline send the bibliography they have compiled to the executive secretary who will compile it for publication.


EDAN hasn't as yet made any contacts so far with this particular region, however there is a probable person by the name of Satareki and so far there have been positive responses as he seemed to be in touch with most of the DPOs in the island and he was also involved in the church circles.

Resolution: A meeting has been arranged between the Executive Secretary and Fei Tevi who is the WCC Regional Secretary for the Pacific region to go for a fact finding mission and identification of a few church leaders to organize a consultation in the Pacific in conjunction with the NCCs, REOs and the NCCs.


The Executive Secretary had visited the Middle East Conference of Churches in 2002 and met with very many groups throughout the MECC. Then they selected Ellie Rahbany who seemed to have been newly disabled, young and therefore had very many expectations. However after further discussions, the Reference Group realized that without contacts in the church, it is hard to move as a coordinator and encouraged the Executive Secretary to pursue a replacement with the newly appointed WCC Middle East Desk coordinator.


When in Bangkok during the Asian meeting, Ying-Bo seemed to have problems due to change of jobs. This was also due to the fact that the PCT wasn't giving him a lot of support too. Due to this change of jobs, much has failed to take place in Asia as he was in charge of the small group that was tasked with following up of the Bangkok meeting.. After discussions on the issue, it was felt that the EDAN regional coordinators and the reference group, need to be introduced to the various WCC desk persons and the REOs to be able to work together.

Resolution: the next global meeting be held in Geneva and all the WCC Desk coordinators be invited for a session with the regional coordinators.


New European coordinators were appointed during the European Consultation held in Netherlands in 2003 after the previous coordinator, Dr. Pal Gado resigned from the coordinatorship sighting old age and the inability to bring in the churches from Eastern Europe. A European network was also formed during this meeting. The new Regional coordinators who were Ms. Simone Poortman was to carry out the work till February 2004 and the Rev. Arne Fritzson takes over from her. During the last Central Committee, a meeting was set with one of the staff of Conference of European Churches in which discussions were held on how to include the members of the Network in the various meetings of CEC.


In Caribbean and Latin America, the EDAN regional coordinators were able to participate in the various meetings organized by the WCC desk coordinator and the REOs for that region. However, other regions should be encouraged to do the same.

Resolution: Through Beth Ferris, the Executive Secretary will liaise and find out about the calendar of these regional meetings and request if EDAN members could participate especially the pre-assembly meetings.


There hasn't been much activity in this particular region, though EDAN has had various contacts with Ms. Linda Larson who is the coordinator of the National Council of Churches of Christ in USA Disability Committee. Through the coordinator, he has requested to have the two EDAN members based in USA to be included in the committee meeting in September.

Resolution: The Executive Secretary to write to the Linda in regard to the

meeting in September 2005 and CC Carolyne and Kathy.

The Executive Secretary was also called upon to get intouch with the United Church of Canada and the National Council of Churches of Canada to build linkages and if possible invite one or 2 to an EDAN meeting.


Razaka still represents EDAN in the DOV reference group meetings. However there hasn't been as much progress as should be the case on highlighting violence on people with disabilities especially women with disabilities.

Resolution: Since Razaka will be attending the Christian Conference of Asia General Assembly, it will be a perfect opportunity to discuss the issue of violence on women with disability.

Resolution: Compile an Advocacy document entitled Violence on women with disabilities with input from Noel, Ye Ja and Arne, to be used for fundraising on this issue as it is very pertinent that the churches take it up.


Abraham and Kathy still attend the committee meetings on Ecumenical Formation Commissions. Arne is also still a Mission and Evangelism Commissioner and Noel is a Commissioner in the Justice Peace and Integrity of Creation. The challenge however is to have EDAN members in all these Commissions either as commissioners or even advisors.



EDAN has moved offices from Limuru Conference and Training Centre which is owned by NCCK and has also changed the mode of work, from working under the auspices of NCCK to AACC. However the secretariat has experienced some hardships due to the fact that AACC is currently undergoing restructuring therefore they cannot hire staff during this period. However, they have provided the space, telephone services, internet services and are also administering the EDAN payroll.


After the meeting in Bangkok where the future of the Newsletter was not certain, the secretariat was able to fundraise for money from the Lutheran World Federation, The United Church of Canada for the newsletter in 2003 and Bread for the world who gave funds for the whole of 2004. However, there are no many articles coming from the EDAN members and therefore efforts need to be made to encourage them to send articles.


The risk book was finally written and published in 2004 by Samuel Kabue and Arne Fritzson. The RG felt that a review needs to be done and sent to various Theological magazines to popularize it.

Resolution: Carolyne will do the review of the Risk book for publishing in Theological journals, magazines and books.


This General Assembly took place in Yaounde, Cameroon from 22nd - 27th November 2003. Four members of EDAN participated in the Assembly. The Assembly met accommodation and board expenses for all the four while the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) sponsored four Air tickets. EDAN had a plenary during which the Consultant challenged the church leaders to ensure that persons with disabilities are part of the Church. EDAN's recommendations were received by the Assembly and the Interim Theological Statement distributed to all the participants.


This General Assembly took place in Accra Ghana from 30th July to 13th August 2004. Two members of EDAN participated in the Assembly. The Assembly met travel, accommodation and board expenses for EDAN consultant and the EDAN Africa region coordinator. EDAN was given a slot to share during the plenary at which the Consultant challenged the church leaders to ensure that persons with disabilities are part of the Church. EDAN's recommendations were received by the Assembly and the Interim Theological Statement distributed to all the participants.


The Computer Skills Training for the Visually impaired funded by the Scholarship programme of Mission and Ecumenical Formation took place in Limuru, Kenya between 29th March to 30th April 2004. 20 participants from the three East African countries selected by the National Christian Councils attended. Initially participants from Sudan and Rwanda had also been invited but they were unable to travel to Nairobi to attend the training. The aim of the training was to introduce participants to computer appreciation; To provide skills in word processing; To build the capacity of persons with disabilities to compete in the fast growing information age; To introduce the participants to skills in record keeping e.g. Spread Sheets; To impart skills on communication technology i.e. internet and email services; To impart to participants computer skills for information management and To bridge the digital divide specifically among persons with disabilities. However the challenge is to train more people who need these skills as we have continued to receive requests for similar training.


The Executive Secretary participated in the Justice Peace and Integrity of Creation Commission meeting took place in Chavennes de Bogis, Geneva between 11th May to 15th May 2004. This was the very first meeting of the newly constituted commission in which Rev. Noel Fernandez had been invited as a commissioner representing persons with disabilities. Among the items discussed were the on-going evaluation of the JPC programmes, the AGAPE process and the JPC work in preparation for the General Assembly to take place in Porto Alegre in Feburary 2006.


The Disability discourse workshop for deans of studies of select theological colleges was held in Limuru, Kenya between 16th to 22nd August 2005. Participants to the workshop included representatives from the Stockholm School of Theology in Sweden from Europe region, United Theological College of West Indies in Jamaica from the Caribbean region, Asia Theological Seminary in Phillipines from Asia region, Escolar Superior De Telegia (Lutheran School of Theology) of Brazil from Latin America backed by the EDAN Regional coordinators from the particular regions and a number of Kenyan Junior theological institutions, hosted by St. Pauls United Theological College in Limuru and EDAN. The Workshop deliberated at length on the Interim Theological Statement developed by EDAN and made their recommendations. On the whole, the Workshop commended the Statement as a useful tool for introducing disability discourse in theological institutions and recommended some changes such as making the tool culturally appropriate, developing accompanying materials such as Bible studies and guide books as well as availing the Statement in a variety of formats/languages including Braille.

As part of the pre-workshop activities, a draft curriculum had been prepared by the organizing team. This Curriculum was presented for discussion and suggestions on ways of enriching the document were made. The Workshop issued a statement restating the significance of mainstreaming the disability agenda in theological institutions as a key means of engendering disability issues in the Church. Participants invited the Church to partner in ensuring that this agenda was disseminated in all WCC member Churches. The Workshop participants lauded the WCC for its continuous support to EDAN and to the disability agenda. It was agreed that follow up workshops at regional and sub-regional levels should be organized to among other things pre-test the document and assist in enriching it. This activity was financed by ETE and Dr. Nyambura Njoroge of MEF was personally present as one of the facilitators.


Discussions on the UN Convention on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities have been going on for quite some time. It was in 2001 when the United Nations General Assembly finally agreed to the working out of the instrument. An Ad Hoc Committee was put into place to work out the modalities and contents of the Convention. The Ad Hoc Committee is made up of Government delegations with the participation of non-governmental organizations. Although all member states have been invited to send delegations, many are as yet to do so. The Government of Kenya decided that this is an all too important process to be left out as a Country. It was agreed to put together a delegation to the meeting. It was decided that EDAN alongside with four other Non-Governmental organizations would be included in that delegation on condition that the Government would not shoulder any financial responsibility. It was at that point that EDAN contacted both Justice Peace and Creation (JPC) and Church Commission on International Affairs (CCIA) of the World Council of Churches who had already expressed the need for such participation from the ecumenical point of view for support to enable this participation. EDAN participated for the first time in the third session which took place between 24th May to 4th June 2004 as part of the Kenya government delegation. It also participated in the subsequent session, which took place between 23rd August to 3rd September and it is hoped that they will continue to participate in the 5th session planned for January 2005.


The Executive Secretary attended the Week of meetings held between 25th to 29th October 2005 in Geneva as recommended by the Reference Group that had been held in Bangkok in 2003, which had noted the impact of such events. Discussions were held with various desks out of which the financing of three main activities for 2005 was pledged. Participation of EDAN at the Commission on World Mission and Evangelism was discussed during this time at which EDAN has been given an opportunity to offer a workshop on healing and disability. Follow-up discussions on the study guide were also held with Simon Oxely of the Mission and Ecumenical Formation Team. A meeting was held with the Asia Desk regarding the Christian Conference of Asia (CCA) pre-assembly on persons with disabilities which EDAN was asked to co-organise and participate. Discussions were also held on the participation of EDAN at the World Council of Churches General Assembly óf 2006 at Porto Allegre and the planned disability pre-assembly event.


The Workshop on Globalisation and Disability which was organized jointly with and financed by the Economic Justice Desk in the JPC took place at Kempton Park in South Africa between1st November to 6th November 2004. The workshop drew 22 participants from Africa and the Caribbean who were themselves, economists, social planners, women and young people belonging to the Southern Africa Economic Justice Network of the councils of churches or persons with disabilities. The main issues discussed were Globalization, international debt burdens and impact on people with disabilities especially in developing countries; Nexus between globalization and poverty and its effect on people with disabilities; Structural Adjustment Programs - Commodification of Health, Rehabilitation and Education and the shrinking public sector inputs; Women with disabilities and the effect of globalization on them; The impact of globalization on young people with disabilities and the shaping of their futures; Lowering legislative controls on social and environmental standards and impacts on persons with disabilities; Globalization's positive impact - Technology and information revolution which includes New Assistive Devices, Creation of jobs that need no muscle power and Potential for investment in the human capital including persons with disabilities for success in the new ‘knowledge-based' global economy; Exploiting opportunities in emerging trade blocs. The meeting came up with the Johannesburg declaration on disability and globalization which was presented to the All Africa Conference of Churches, EDAN, the WCC, the African Union and the United Nations. Discussions are being held on a follow up to this with the recipients of the declaration.


The Executive Secretary attended the Pan Africa Federation of the Disabled Capacity Building workshop in Dar es Salaam between 14th to 19th November 2004. The key concern of the meeting was the ongoing discussions on the development of the integral UN Convention on the rights and dignity of persons with disabilities. Other issues tackled were the impact of Information Communication and Technology and the Universal Design. The meeting also discussed the need for a General Assembly for the regional disability body.


During various for a that the EDAN consultant has been invited to attend, the interim theological statement has also been shared and distributed there. However the biggest barrier has been in the language. However the hard copies have been translated in English, French, Swedish and Romanian and very soon in Spanish which is not enough as a wider constituency has not yet been reached. However in the WCC website it is available in all the WCC language.


  1. Contact Christoffel Blindenmission (CBM) to help print the statement in Germany.
  2. Get some people to translate in smaller languages like in Portuguese from the disability desk of Lutheran Church in Brazil.
  3. Approach Christian Conference of Asia (CCA) to translate in Mandarin which is the main language in Asia.


The Reference Group felt that instead of getting a verbal report, it would be better to have a written financial statement sent to them to be in a better position to analyse the income and expenditure.


The items to be discussed under these were:

  • participants

  • finances

  • program

  • statement that should come out of the Pre-assembly

EDAN has managed to negotiate for a pre-assembly even though there was already a fear regarding pre-assemblies as there were no enough funds for such an event except women and youth. EDAN is planning a pre-assembly of 25 people who will also attend the General Assembly as advisors who will be provided with accommodation by WCC but EDAN fundraise for the tickets. However the Executive Secretary felt that to enhance regional balance, maybe a number like 40 should participate in the pre-assembly who need to be fundraised for the airtickets and the accommodation. A proposal has been written in this regard of $90,000 (Ninety US dollars). So far LWF has pledged to give $10,000 (Ten Thousand US dollars) but no other pledges have been received.

After much discussion on the issues, it was resolved that:

  • since the main issue is impact, let us concentrate on the 25 people whom we should choose wisely to pass the message and influence the General assembly

  • Noel should mobilize the local people from around Porto Allegre to attend the pre-assembly.

  • Noel to get in touch with the local planning committee disability team and give them the details on the accessibility checklist that is in the interim statement on a church of all and for all.

  • Keep in mind that if there will be deaf participants, they will need interpreters

  • The Executive Secretary to inquire if there is a chance of including youth with disabilities as part of the stewards who will be also attending the youth pre-assembly. The same with women with disabilities who could be involved in the women pre-assembly. If not a social gathering on the last day could be suggested for interaction.

  • Participation be as follows

1. Europe 4 persons who will be Arne, Simone, Muzsnai and one other from Eastern Europe who should orthodox and if possible a woman too.

2. North America to have 2 from US and 2 from Canada of whom 2 should be women

3. Caribbean to have 2 who will be Gordon and one other who should be a woman

4. Latin America to have 4 persons who will be Noel and 3 others from Central, South and indigenous of whom 2 should be woman

5. Asia to have 4 people who will be Ye Ja, Ying-Bo and 2 others to be chosen from the CCA pre-assembly participants

6. Middle East to have 2 whom the Executive Secretary will select in consultation with the WCC Middle East desk.

7. Pacific to have 2 who will be Satareki and any other

8. Africa to have 4 persons who will be Abraham, Razaka, Micheline and a fourth one who should be orthodox to be identified as Sara could be replaced by a new person as she has attended 3 previous assemblies.

  • However, when choosing all these participants caution should be used to balance gender, age and the various categories of impairments.

  • After compiling the list, the Executive Secretary can write to the various participants requesting If there will be a shortage of funds, priority should be given to the Regional Cordinators and the Reference group.


The Executive Secretary was asked to advocate for EDAN to be included in the program guidelines committee even if it is as advisors from the very beginning and the same as in the case of policy reference committees and also inclusion as writers of the assembly daily briefs. The entire programe committee needs a high visibility on disability as this is a crosscutting issue and if it can be featured in all the WCC programme plans, it will be a great achievement.

The Executive Secretary was also asked to inquire whether persons with disabilities can participate in worship and this should include participation in the preparation of the liturgy.

Resolution: Executive Secretary should write to the worship committee regarding the contributions that persons with disabilities would like to make in regard to participation in daily reflections, worship and bible study.

Towards this the EDAN Newsletter of October-December 2005 should compile stories on EDAN Regional work and the achievements that the program has made so far. Also get the services of some professionals who could help in making posters, fliers and films on EDANs work in various regions through biblical stories aimed at reclaiming positive images of disability.

The Pre-assembly issues to be discussed should include:

Day one: Bible Study on ecumenism and the running themes be History of EDAN; Personal sharings on being different; universal design and a talk from Rev. Norman Shanks who is the Chairperson of the Assembly planning committee on how EDAN can influence the Assembly. John 17, Luke 14 and Ephesians 4.

Day two: Have a bible study on interdependence; the running themes for the day should be Globalisation, Imago Dei and Violence against women with disabilities.

Day three: Have a bible study on Wholeness; the running themes for the day should be Healing, Caring for life and the way forward.


The meeting was not able to give enough time to this agenda as we ran out of time but some of the issues that that emerged to be dealt with beyond Porto Allegre should be:

  • Hermeneutics

  • Accessibility in its full meaning in churches and compile an instruction book.

  • Popularizing the Interim Theological Statement