Speaking Out: Gifts of Ministering Undeterred by Disabilities is a book that is full of both heartbreak and hope.
Image Description: The book cover shows a beautiful work of art with a group of people holding hands in circle. The image is rendered in soft brush strokes and bright colors. CLICK HERE to get your own copy. Royalties support the work of the United Methodist Association of Ministers with Disabilities.
I highly recommend this book for all UMC clergy.
Speaking Out: Gifts of Ministering Undeterred by Disabilities is a book with a powerful message that should be required reading for anyone considering a career in ministry, especially if that person is a member of the United Methodist Church. I wish I would have known about the United Methodist Association of Ministers with Disabilities when I was in seminary. I also wish that I had known sooner about Disability Ministries of the United Methodist Church. I am so glad that both of these groups exist and I am so grateful for all the work that they do in both the church and the world.
This book was very difficult for me to read. Many of the stories were deeply heartbreaking. The unemployment rate for people with disabilities is staggering. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, approximately 80% of people with disabilities in the United States are unemployed. As a person with low vision, I am very grateful to have not only a job, but also a calling as an ordained elder in the United Methodist Church.
However, I know that many people are not so lucky or so blessed. The struggle continues for many of my colleagues in ministry. I feel very blessed to have found a place within the Susquehanna Conference (located in Central Pennsylvania), but I know that there are many other conferences where it is much more difficult to be ordained as a person with a disability.
This book is compilation of personal testimonies from people serving in ministry, all of whom are living with some type of disability. A vast array of disabilities are represented, including testimony from people who struggle with mental health issues, wheel chair users, members of the Deaf community, people who are blind, and a particularly moving section by a Deaf Blind writer.
Many of the stories in this book were so full of pain, anguish, and heartbreak that i had to put the book down and stop for a while. It was difficult for me to read but important for me to be aware of what is happening and what my colleagues are experiencing. It took me a long time to read this book because a lot of it was so painful for me to read.
Not all of the personal testimonies were painful to read. Many of them were also full of hope and joy. In fact, the book also includes a personal testimony by one of my favorite colleagues in ministry, Rev. Mitch Galloway. Rev. Mitch retired the same year that I was ordained and I felt very blessed to have the opportunity to read his words.
Another of my favorite sections was the portion written by Bishop Peggy Johnson. Bishop Johnson is also blind in one eye (just like me!) and I am so inspired by her work and her ministry.
I highly recommend this book for all United Methodist Clergy and seminarians. This book would also make excellent reading for church members who have been appointed a pastor with a disability.
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Title: Speaking Out: Gifts of Ministering Undeterred by Disabilities
Authors: Various Authors, including members of the United Methodist Association of Ministers with Disabilities
Length: 268 Pages
Publication Date: April 14, 2012
CLICK HERE to get your own copy. Royalties go to support the work and ministry of the United Methodist Association of Ministers with Disabilities.
Synopsis from Goodreads:
Readers of “Speaking Out: Gifts of Ministering Undeterred by Disabilities” will enter the worlds of one Episcopal and 24 United Methodist ministers who cope with various forms of disabilities. Read how each one is a living testimony that will surprise, inspire, and remind you that they are people with God given gifts who were spiritually strengthened during their individual life-journeys, all the while remaining faithful to their respective calls to church ministry. Unfortunately, people with disabilities frequently experience physical and discriminatory barriers, several of which are described by the contributors to this book; undeterred, they overcame-or are overcoming-the barriers through grace, resiliency, and support from many sources. The book focuses on ministers, but their stories are applicable to non-ministerial persons in our all too common negating ways of both the sacred and secular societies. This book is sponsored by the United Methodist Association of Ministers with Disabilities (UMAMD), and all royalties from sales of the book will go to the UMAMD in support of its activities.
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Book Review & Author Interview: The Bright Side of Darkness with J.E. Pinto is the best representation of a blind character in a fictional novel that I have ever read! The author, J.E. Pinto, also happens to be blind. In this interview, she speaks about her inspiration for her award winning novel, writing characters with disabilities, and her writing process.
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