On Thursday, March 18, 2021, over 30 people representing twenty churches in northwest Iowa and southwest Minnesota gathered for an interactive Zoom event From Inclusion to Belonging: Welcoming People with Disabilities. The goal was to explore ways churches might welcome, advocate for, and reach out to people with disabilities. Guest speakers were Rev. Terry DeYoung (Coordinator for Disability Concerns, Reformed Church in America) and Rev. Mark Stephenson (Director of Disability Concerns, Christian Reformed Church in North America). Jim Hudzinski and Dan DeVries in the Spiritual Support Department of Hope Haven, along with Kyle Crist from Rejoice! Community Church in LeMars, IA coordinated the event.
"We met for ninety minutes and the second half was spent discussing the benefits of a church being part of a learning community of churches in their community on a journey of becoming more welcoming and inclusive to people with disabilities," said Hope Haven Spirtual Support Manager, Daniel DeVries. "Our prayer is that several learning communities will start up in the towns of our region. We are not content with simply being able to recognize friends with disabilities but hope that many more of us can acknowledge that people with disabilities are our co-laborers in God's kingdom--all of us "created in Christ Jesus to do good works which he has prepared in advance for us to do."