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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Beyond ramps and elevators

A welcoming attitude fully opens a congregation to people with disabilities

Ascension Lutheran proves it's the size of the congregation's heart — not its membership roll — that counts in creating a nurturing environment for all, including people with disabilities. The 150-member church in Orofino, Idaho, received the 1998 ELCA Accessibility Award for going beyond merely overcoming architectural barriers and working to break down attitudinal barriers as well.

"A ramp isn't enough," said Laura Lundsgaard, ELCA acting director for disabilities ministries. Ascension cultivated a keen awareness that some people need a little help to get involved in activities and leadership.

"Ascension has always been that way," said Barbara Fagley, council president. Its experience with members who have disabilities has taught Ascension to be sensitive to the many ways people can be excluded from church life.

"We're all God's family," she said. "It doesn't matter if you're sick, crippled, cranky or ugly — or all of the above."


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