By Christine Guth of the Anabaptist Disabilities Network
Anabaptist Disabilities Network (ADNet) has appointed Rebekah Flores of Elgin, Ill., and Ronald Ropp of Normal, Ill., to serve as field associates. Flores is an active participant at Highland Avenue Church of the Brethren in Elgin.
Flores and Ropp join a team of volunteers who help to extend ADNet’s reach and resources. Field associates are long-term volunteers who work part-time for ADNet from their home location on projects related to inclusion and hospitality toward persons with disabilities in faith communities.
Flores to spearhead ADNet efforts in Brethren congregations
Rebekah Flores is the first field associate affiliated with the Church of the Brethren to begin volunteering for ADNet. Her interest in the role arose when she learned about a recently formed partnership between ADNet and the Disabilities Ministry of the Church of the Brethren.
Flores brings a strong concern for helping congregations meet the unique needs of people of all ages with diverse disabilities as they desire to participate in congregational life. She will be spearheading ADNet’s efforts to serve persons with disabilities in Church of the Brethren congregations, beginning in the Chicago area and expanding outward through Illinois and the Midwest.
Majoring in psychology and special education, Flores earned a bachelor of arts degree from Barat College in Lake Forest, Ill., and later attended Bethany Seminary in Richmond, Ind. She is employed as a qualified intellectual disabilities professional by Little Friends Inc., where she provides case management and supports adults with disabilities who reside in traditional group homes and in the community. Previously she served five years as an administrator of L’Arche Chicago, a small, faith-based, international intentional community of people with and without disabilities who share life together.
Flores welcomes opportunities to consult and speak about disability-related issues in Church of the Brethren, Mennonite, and other Anabaptist congregations in the Chicago region. Contact her at 773-673-2182 or firstname.lastname@example.org .
Ropp to help churches respond to needs of older adults
Ropp has spent a lifetime advocating for and encouraging appreciation of older adults. He is available for speaking and consulting with congregations seeking to respond to the needs and gifts of persons who are aging. His wide range of experiences as pastoral counselor and caregiver give him much to offer congregations seeking to respond to the needs of older members. He is available to help congregations evaluate needs and explore plans for dealing with issues of aging and caregiving.
“I have seen and heard great wisdom in elders, who often feel their knowledge and wisdom is irrelevant to the modern age,” Ropp observes. “Their wisdom is a tremendous resource to society and to the church. However, many of them feel they are no longer needed. This is a disability of the church not often noticed or addressed. In this age of renewable resources, our senior citizens may be one of the greatest untapped resources within our congregations.” Ropp looks forward to collaborating with ADNet in helping congregations rediscover and validate the valuable resource of their older members.
Ropp brings 38 years of experience in pastoral counseling and university teaching on gerontology and death and dying. Experience as a caregiver for aging parents and, more recently for his wife who suffered a stroke, enrich his perspectives on aging well. He attends Mennonite Church of Normal. To consult with him or invite him to speak, contact 309-452-8534 or email@example.com .
Organized in 2003, with offices in Elkhart, Ind., ADNet is committed to supporting congregations, families, and persons touched by disabilities, and nurturing inclusive communities. Contact ADNet at 574-343-1362, firstname.lastname@example.org , or visit www.adnetonline.org.
— Christine Guth is program director for the Anabaptist Disabilities Network. Find out more about the Disabilities Ministry of the Church of the Brethren at www.brethren.org/disabilities . Flores will be finding ways to encourage Church of the Brethren congregations to appoint local disabilities advocates, find forms and more information at the web page of the Disabilities Ministry.