For full reports and exact statements of the denomination's position on a particular issue, the reader should look to the references provided.

Position

The church pledges to be a caring community, recognizing the needs and gifts of people with physical, emotional, sensory, and intellectual disabilities. Through ministries such as the Office of Disability Concerns (crcna.org/disability), in collaboration with Friendship Ministries (Friendship.org) and the Disability Concerns office of the Reformed Church in America (rca.org/disability-awareness), the CRC urges all churches and members to work toward eliminating physical and architectural barriers, attitudinal barriers that make persons with disabilities feel unwelcome, and communication barriers in sight, sound, and understanding. Using the theme “Everybody Belongs. Everybody Serves,” all churches, classes, and educational institutions are encouraged to sponsor events celebrating a Disability Week each year in October. Each classis is encouraged to identify at least one person to serve as a regional disability advocate, and each church is encouraged to adopt a church policy on disability and to appoint at least one member as a church disability advocate.

History

In 1977 Pine Rest Christian Hospital in Grand Rapids, Michigan, decided to phase out its inpatient care for children with intellectual and developmental disabilities, following a national trend from institutional to residential care. This action created a hardship for a number of Christian Reformed families, and in 1978 Classis Rocky Mountain overtured synod to appoint a committee to study the issue; the resulting committee completed a study and then served until 1986 as a service committee of synod, at which time it became a standing committee. Since 1987 that committee has been known as Disability Concerns.

In 1985 synod adopted A Resolution on Disabilities, which continues to represent the CRC's position. Synod 1993 recommended full compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act in all portions of the CRC in the United States and Canada. Synod 2000 encouraged all classes “to establish a network of disability-concerns consultants and congregational contacts to work in cooperation with the office of Disability Concerns." Recent summaries of questionnaire results and progress reports are included in the Agenda for Synod 2006 (pp. 77-80) and the Agenda for Synod 2008 (pp. 54-57). Synod 2009 adopted a request by Disability Concerns to encourage churchwide celebrations of an annual Disability Week each October. Synod 2011 declared that future meetings of synod will provide reasonable accommodations as recommended by the Office of Disability Concerns for “all participants, including but not limited to people with known hearing impairments, sight impairments, and mobility impairments” (Acts of Synod 2011, p. 817).

In 2013 synod adopted a recommendation to “encourage all Christian Reformed churches to adopt a church policy on disability and to appoint at least one person in the congregation to serve as a church disability advocate” (Acts of Synod 2013, pp. 612-13). In 2014 the Office of Disability Concerns updated its mandate in collaboration with the Disability Concerns office of the Reformed Church in America, and Synod 2014 approved a recommendation to encourage inclusion of and engagement with children and youth who have disabilities “as an important part of congregational ministries and denominational youth ministry programs” (Acts of Synod 2014, p. 557). Synod 2016 approved a recommendation to “[1] encourage Christian Reformed classes to identify at least one person to serve as a regional disability advocate, and [2] encourage each classis to invite their regional advocate to report to classis at least once per year” (Acts of Synod 2016, pp. 832-33).

References to Agendas and Acts of Synod

Acts of Synod 1978, pp. 61-62, 129, 648-50
Acts of Synod 1979, pp. 78-80, 662-78
Acts of Synod 1980, pp. 37, 214-15
Acts of Synod 1981, pp. 51-52, 114, 532-46
Acts of Synod 1982, pp. 57, 593-95
Acts of Synod 1985, pp. 348-52, 490, 702-703, 825
Agenda for Synod 1986, pp. 276-81
Acts of Synod 1986, pp. 627-28, 713
Agenda for Synod 1987, pp. 140-46
Acts of Synod 1987, pp. 553-56
Agenda for Synod 1992, pp. 133-42
Acts of Synod 1992, pp. 621-23
Agenda for Synod 1993, pp. 168-74
Acts of Synod 1993, pp. 381-405, 539, 542-43
Agenda for Synod 1995, pp. 187-90
Acts of Synod 1995, pp. 677-78
Agenda for Synod 2000, pp. 66-68, 70-72
Acts of Synod 2000, p. 620
Agenda for Synod 2006, pp. 77-80
Agenda for Synod 2008, pp. 54-57
Agenda for Synod 2009, pp. 44, 91-92
Acts of Synod 2009, pp. 587-88
Acts of Synod 2011, pp. 703, 714-15, 817-18
Agenda for Synod 2013, pp. 44-45, 193
Acts of Synod 2013, pp. 612-13
Agenda for Synod 2014, pp. 36-37, 85-87
Acts of Synod 2014, pp. 557-59
Acts of Synod 2015, p. 671
Agenda for Synod 2016, pp. 39-40, 47-48
Acts of Synod 2016, pp. 832-33