Minutes of the Annual Business Meeting and Forum

Dear Friends,
I am excited about working with you all the next two years as president of the Religion and Spirituality Division! Please read the minutes below from the Forum this year and look for more division news in August via our newsletter and a survey discussed below.

I hope you get to enjoy some moments of refreshment and relaxation this summer.

God’s Peace,
Anne Masters
President,
Religion & Spirituality Division

Dear Friends,
I am excited about working with you all the next two years as president of the Religion and Spirituality Division! Please read the minutes below from the Forum this year and look for more division news in August via our newsletter and a survey discussed below.

I hope you get to enjoy some moments of refreshment and relaxation this summer.

God’s Peace,
Anne Masters
President,
Religion & Spirituality Division

Minutes of the Annual Business Meeting and Forum of the Religion and Spirituality Division of AAIDD

Held Thursday, June 21, 2012
Recorded by Don Healey, Treasurer and Recording Secretary

Welcome

Members Present: Don Healey, Nella Uitvlugt, Lisa Culp Neikirk, Anne Masters, Jeff McNair, Johnny Phillips, Joseph Deacon, Betty McManus, Steve Leinhos, Chuck Werth, Peter J. Smith, Charlie Bremseth, Neil Cudney, Luchara Wallace, Bill Gaventa (Don’s apologies for any names omitted or misspelled)

The meeting began at 9:10 am, President Jeff McNair presiding. Jeff welcomed the group after leading us in an opening prayer. He noted that this is an exciting time in the area of disability ministry that offers our division a good opportunity to provide leadership in the field.

Business Report

The business report followed. It was noted that our affiliated journal, the Journal of Religion, Disability, and Health, may be undergoing a title change to the International Journal of Religion, Disability, and Health. The email/online newsletters crafted by Christopher Phillips have been well received. There have been approximately six sent out since this time last year. The concurrent sessions presented by R&S were also well received. Don Healey, Treasurer, gave the following report as to the division’s financial status:

Beginning Balance $4,438.65
Membership Rebate from AAIDD $865.00
COMIS Committee Dues ($200.00)
Henri Nouwen Award Engraving ($105.00)
Current Balance $4,995.65

Don also mentioned that, during an officer’s meeting the previous evening, it had been recommended that a donation of $200 also be given to our affiliate organization, the National Council of Churches, in order to support their work. This was approved by the officers and will be worked into this year’s budget.

Transition

Jeff then welcomed Anne Masters, Director of the Department for Pastoral Ministry with Persons with Disabilities for the Newark Archdiocese (Roman Catholic Church), as the incoming president. This will be a two year term and we thank and congratulate Jeff for his presence, support, and leadership over the past two years. She gave some brief introductory remarks. She is excited about working with the group. She noted a transition of sorts, not only in this division but in many other organizational bodies, from a face to face community to a virtual community. An electronic survey will be sent out to division members to assess how we might be able to employ such technologies in appropriate ways.

Jeff then explained the two year transition process. Every two years, there is a new president and new vice-president nominated and chosen. Anne had been chosen earlier as vice-president. After the president’s term is over, the vice-president serves a president for two years. There was a nomination for vice-president, Shelley Christensen. Bill Gaventa introduced Shelley, who was unable to attend this meeting. She has worked in a variety of capacities as a mentor and consultant to various Jewish faith and community organizations, most currently as a private consultant. (To learn more about Shelley and her work, go to http://www.inclusioninnovations.com/) Anne mentioned the positive aspects of having a Jewish presence in the leadership of our organization. No other nominations being brought forward or discussion, Shelley was officially nominated and elected by unanimous vote. Congratulations, Shelley!

The Chaplaincy Certification project

The Chaplaincy Certification project and process was discussed and voted on next. Anne Masters reviewed what had been a two year process. She, Dave Morstad of Bethesda Institute, and Sister Gabrielle Kowalski of Cardinal Strich University/Milwaukee had been trying to update the process by which this could be obtained in order to: blend the process for both lay and ordained ministry; reflect the move towards a community based model; and retain the integrity of the process and intent while also providing technology-based options for application, participation, and training.

Our “Historian” Bill Gaventa explained that, while a cohort of chaplains specifically assigned to large scale institutions for persons with I/DD is no longer the norm, there are still a number of persons and organizations looking to this division to provide a specialized disability ministry certification process that reflects contemporary circumstances regarding providing specialized spiritual supports to this population.

Anne indicated that she, Dave, and Sister Gabrielle spent quite a bit of time culling through historical records and working on developing the Proposal, which was then handed out to the members in attendance. After a few minutes of reading and review, these points emerged:

  • One of the training options was considered unnecessarily limiting and thus unintentionally counterproductive to the chaplaincy application process (point 3.d.1 on page 2 of the proposal) and it was recommended that it be deleted.
  • Dr. Peter Smith indicated that these processes, for good or for ill, normally also include some sort of quantitative exit exam component. The assessment would focus on the mission statement of the AAIDD and would not need to be unnecessarily cumbersome. He has graciously volunteered to write the assessment tool, which will be part of the overall application process.
  • The National Association of Jewish Chaplains was added to the list of recognized pastoral care organizations listed on page 6.
  • After a brief discussion, the proposal, with recommended changes, was brought to a vote for acceptance. Peter Smith made the motion and Bill Gaventa accepted. It was given a unanimous vote of approval! Thanks to Anne, Dave, and Sister Gabe for all their hard work. Information on this process will be disseminated very shortly so please be on the lookout for it if you are interested.

    Henri Nouwen Award

    The next order of business was the awarding of the Henri Nouwen award to our own Bill Gaventa. Anne Masters, who nominated him, discussed his long and productive history, his body of work, his gifts, and how he has earned his title as “The Great Connector!” Bill gave a wonderful acceptance speech that reviewed his beginnings, interests in, and continuing motivations to continue in this line of work. Don has made part of his speech available on YouTube:

    This activity concluded the business meeting portion of the morning at approximately 11:15 am, which then continued with a wonderful talk by Bill about the Biblical and Scriptural bases for our collective efforts in disability ministry.

    Respectfully Submitted, Don Healey, Recording Secretary.

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