Americans with Disabilities Act (1994)

1994 Church of the Brethren Resolution

Whereas many of our churches and church-related facilities remain inaccessible to persons with disabilities because of architectural barriers, communication barriers for those with visual, mental, or hearing impairments, and attitudes that reflect a lack of sensitivity or understanding, and

Whereas our call to share our faith and reach out to the many people with disabilities who remain unchurched can only be accomplished as we become accessible, and

Whereas persons with disabilities, who have valuable gifts and energies to contribute to our church programs, are barred from participating fully, if at all, in the life of our denomination, and

Whereas the life of Jesus, his works and teachings, provide a clear basis for our church’s commitment to nondiscrimination, integration, and inclusivity, and

Whereas the attitude of our greater society toward people with disabilities has dramatically changed in recent years, resulting in new legislation, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990, and

Whereas religious bodies are largely exempt from ADA regulations, even though the principles and values in the ADA are in accord with their principles and values, and

Whereas the churches have not provided leadership and have lagged behind secular society in making facilities accessible and in integrating persons with disabilities into their communities, and

Whereas the ADA provides carefully crafted, generally clear and consistent guidelines as to the levels of accommodation that both the private and public sectors are expected to provide in all spheres of public life for people with disabilities:

Therefore, we petition Annual Conference to consider accepting the Americans with Disabilities Act guidelines for the Church of the Brethren and to urge our churches and institutions to begin study and implementation thereof, exempted those entities that would face “undue hardship” in attempting to comply with the act; and we suggest that the development of a plan to implement ADA throughout the denomination be referred to the Association of Brethren Caregivers.

Approved and passed to the Conference of the District Illinois and Wisconsin by the Congregational Business Meeting of the Highland Avenue Church of the Brethren, Elgin, Ill., on October 31, 1993.

Carl Myers, Moderator
Jim Lehman, Board Chair
Joanne Nesler, Church Clerk, pro tem

Action of the Illinois and Wisconsin District Conference: Passed on to the Annual Conference by the Illinois and Wisconsin District Conference: The District Conference on November 5-7, 1993, held at York Center Church, Lombard, Illinois.

Judd Peter, Moderator
Christopher Bowman, Writing Clerk

Action of the 1994 Annual Conference: Carol Dubble, a Standing Committee member from the Atlantic Northeast District, presented the recommendation from Standing Committee that Standing Committee appreciates the concern of the query and asks Churches of the Brethren to act within the spirit of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Title 3 (Public Accommodations); and further asks the Association of Brethren Caregivers (ABC) to continue developing its ADA educational program that is already in place.

The Annual Conference delegate body rejected the Standing Committee recommendation by adoption the following substitute motion: The Annual Conference responds favorably to the petition and urges appropriate follow through by the Church of the Brethren congregations and institutions in behalf of persons with special needs in our midst.