Access Sunday is a time to focus on the gifts and needs of people with disabilities. Many denominations celebrate Access
Sunday each year on a particular Sunday. In the Episcopal Church, however, most of the clergy are reluctant to abandon the
assigned lessons and prayers. In our experience, Access Sunday is more easily accepted if the planners look at lessons which
have to do with people with disabilities or with disability concerns. For example, we have two stories which feature men who
are blind, a story of people with mental illnesses, a leper story in both the Old and New Testaments, and several other stories
which feature deafness, lameness, etc.
The following suggestions are intended as guidelines. They are not set in stone. You may have more creative or more
practical ideas. The Episcopal Disability Network has many Access Sunday resources to assist you. Call or e-mail us if we
can be helpful.
- Gather a few interested people together to plan the service. You
might want to designate your Worship Commission as that group. Make sure that all your plans are approved by your clergy.
If your priest or deacon is unwilling or unable to preach about disability concerns, choose someone else or ask us for the
sermons we have on hand.
- Ask persons with disabilities to be among the readers, chalice-bearers,
ushers, or others serving in the service.
- Plan an adult educational program about disability concerns, preferably
one which involves one of your parishioners with a disability or a guest leader. This would be an excellent day for your children
to have the experience of being disabled. A little thought will suggest how this exercise might be structured or we would
be happy to assist you.
- Weave prayers for people with disabilities into the prayers of the
people or create
special prayers. Be sure to think about and include some of the inequities which still exist for these people. For example,
in many cities, people with disabilities are placed in nursing homes because there is not enough accessible housing available.
- In some way – perhaps a coffee hour devoted to the people
with disabilities in your congregation – celebrate the gifts which these people offer to God. If you have not yet discovered
these gifts, this is a good Sunday to do so.
- Remember that the largest group of persons with disabilities is
your own group of
parishioners over 76. Each of us, if we live long enough, will incur one or more disabilities. Make sure your bulletin and
other worship materials are in print large enough to be read by everyone. Make sure that everyone can hear especially if you
do not have an adaptive sound system. If there are steps up to the chancel and sanctuary areas, think about having a Communion
station on the floor of the nave. Access Sunday at least must be fully accessible.
- Evaluate the day as you begin to plan for an even more successful
Access Sunday next year.