The Disability Inclusion Group empowers our congregation to actively support and advocate for themselves, their families, and other disabled people in our community. We achieve this by implementing the following initiatives:
1) Inclusive Worship Services: We organize worship services that focus on disability-related topics, incorporating stories, readings, and other elements from a disability perspective. These services promote understanding, empathy, and inclusion within our congregation.
2) Local Activism: Our group comprises disabled people, family members, and allies. Together, we actively participate in local and statewide initiatives aimed at enhancing equity, participation, and inclusivity for disabled people across all aspects of life. By engaging in advocacy efforts, we strive to create positive change in our community.
3) Educational Opportunities: Throughout the year, we provide a range of educational opportunities to our members. These may include workshops, film screenings, religious education programs, and informative articles in our newsletter, all centered around diverse disability-related subjects. These offerings foster awareness, knowledge, and growth within our congregation.
Through these activities, The Disability Inclusion group fosters an engaged, informed, and empowered community that supports and advocates for the rights and well-being of disabled people.
First Unitarian Universalist Church of Rochester, Minn. has received national recognition for achievements in welcoming, embracing, and integrating people with disabilities and their families into their congregation, and for disability-related social justice activities in the Rochester community. First UU attained certification through the Accessibility and Inclusion Ministry (AIM) Program, which enables Unitarian Universalist congregations to be formally recognized for their commitment and progress.
Few religious communities in the United States offer programs specifically designed to promote greater welcoming and inclusion of people with disabilities and their families. First UU has participated in pioneering efforts as a pilot congregation of the AIM Program to develop this unique program. It is only the fourth congregation in the country to receive the distinction of having attained AIM certification.
Some highlights of accomplishments during the program include:
• Updated SEMCIL Accessibility Report
• Electronic openers on bathrooms and additional doors around the Church.
• Improved awareness within the congregation
• Two worship services: one on Autism and one as part of our 150th-anniversary celebration
• Two UU book club selections in 2015 and 2016 around disability related themes
• Updated webpage
• Provided workshops at Chalice Camp and in RE for children around disability topics
The AIM Program officially ended June 30, 2022. Read the joint statements from EqUUal Access and the UUA here: https://www.equualaccess.org/aim-program/
Gail Bishop contributed the following during the Release of the AIM Program at the annual EqUUal Access Celebration June 16, 2022:
Remarks from Gail Bishop at the annual EqUUal Access Celebration
UU Mental Health Network
UU Mental Health Network is an online portal with information and resources to empower, educate, and engage Unitarian Universalists on their Mental Health journeys.
In September 2015 we commissioned an accessibility survey from the Southeast Minnesota Center for Independent Living in order to ensure accessibility for our members and visitors. SEMCIL examined the entryway, sanctuary, education rooms, staff offices, kitchen, and fellowship hall and prepared an Accessibility Assessment that made several recommendations to improve accessibility. Since that time several no-cost and low-cost changes have been made and the church continues to study the feasibility and cost of larger projects. SEMCIL Audit
Accessibility and Accommodations