Welcome from the President

 

Welcome to the newly reformatted, AAIDD Religion and Spirituality Division newsletter!  We hope you will find the newsletter informative and user friendly.  We are grateful for the service of Christopher Phillips who will be our editor.  

 

Welcome to the newly reformatted, AAIDD Religion and Spirituality Division newsletter!  We hope you will find the newsletter informative and user friendly.  We are grateful for the service of Christopher Phillips who will be our editor.  

I, Jeff McNair, am your new, incoming, division president.  I have had the pleasure of meeting many of you over the years at AAIDD.  I am a professor of special education, and have been involved in disability ministry my entire adult life.  As a Christian, I have a passion for the inclusion of persons with disabilities within the church.  However, as the president of this division my desire is to see people with disabilities integrated into the faith group of their choosing.  It is our position that all faith communities should strive to be more inclusive, and we as professionals should work to ensure that religious freedom is provided for all, independent of what their disability might be or in what type of setting they may live.  We need to assist faith communities to come to the decision that they want people with intellectual/developmental disabilities in their fellowships, because once that decision is made, the rest is largely logistics.  As stated above, we are an interfaith and interdisciplinary organization.  Those are not just words, but truly our desire.  This newsletter will be interfaith, with every issue.  To that end, we urge you to share the newsletter with professionals, parents, others working in the field of intellectual/developmental disability, and others involved in the wide variety of forms of ministries with people with disabilities particularly those representing various faith communities.  The responsibility to broaden the interfaith nature of our organization is partly your responsibility as a member so we encourage you to assist with outreach.

In this newsletter, Bill Gaventa lays out the new membership package!  When was the last time you paid less for more?  Well, that is the new package that Bill has facilitated for the Division.  The Journal of Religion, Disability & Health, arguably the premier journal in interfaith work with people experiencing disability, is now a membership benefit.  I am confident that you will enjoy this offering.

The “Twin Cities” 2011 conference promises to be an excellent one!  AAIDD has issued a call for papers and we are counting on you to respond.  The theme for this year’s conference is “Inclusive Communities” which is right up our alley.  We hope to be front and center advocating for the benefits of religious participation of persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities.  If you plan to submit a presentation please let me know as well so that we in the division can plan.  Thank you!

Also in regard to the 2011 conference, it is not too early to begin thinking about nominations for the Nouwen award.  This award is presented each year at the conference to someone who has worked to promote spirituality in individuals with developmental disabilities.  Specific directions on nomination criteria will be provided in this newsletter.  I look forward to receiving your nominations.

Finally, at the 2010 conference in Providence, we put together a work group to assist with the chaplain certification program.  Would those who volunteered for that group (or if you are interested in being a part of this group) please contact me so we can facilitate the first meeting.

Enjoy your division’s new newsletter!  We hope you will find it useful and informative.

Blessings, Jeff McNair

 

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