Hi! I’m Rev. Lisa Heffernan, and I serve as the coordinator for Disability Ministries; a position I began just about a year ago! My involvement with the advisory team began in early 2017. Between then and now I have co-facilitated one of our expansion teams, helped to co-author documents and resources on language and disability, contributed to our newsletter, and ventured to Washington D.C. for the Lutheran Services in America conference in the spring of 2017. As a rostered leader in Christ’s Church who lives with a disability, I have long felt a strong call to serve with and for others with disabilities. That call brought me to this advisory team, and now as coordinator, where I strive to lead and serve in such a way that the ELCA can seek to become more open and accessible to disabled followers of Christ– in the pew, at the pulpit, and in all expressions of church life and leadership.
In future monthly blog posts we will feature stories from different disability ministries, leaders with disabilities, allies, and ELCA families who are part of the disability community. We are here to share those stories, to learn from one another, and to work toward a full, just and equitable church and society where people with disabilities are prepared for leadership, congregations are equipped for accessible ministries, and God’s people are connected to one another in our life together as followers of Christ.
In this first post for our blog, you’ll get to meet the wonderful group of colleagues who serve on the ELCA Disability Ministries advisory team. Every day I am thankful for their knowledge, dedication to, and love of this ministry and of God and God’s people. They volunteer so much of themselves and their time; my heart is full when I reflect on all we’ve done together, and it excites me for all that is to come. You can contact Disability Ministries at: Disability.Ministry@elca.org. or firstname.lastname@example.org.
My name is Chris Ludwig, and I’ve served on the Disability Ministries Advisory Team since 2015. My contributions to the Advisory Team include starting, editing, and writing for the Disability Ministries newsletter, which raises awareness of the Ministries’ success in exemplifying the All Are Welcome creed of the church by continuously highlighting numerous leadership, education, and advocacy opportunities by and for individuals with disabilities within the church. I also facilitate the Ministries’ Grant Review Team, which to date has cumulatively awarded hundreds of thousands of dollars in support of programming and services meant to prepare leaders with disabilities to serve within the church, equip synods and congregations with information and resources relevant and specific to a population of individuals who have disabilities, and connect and gather individuals with disabilities throughout various expressions of the church to promote and support inclusion, participation, and diversity. This work is so important to me, and I’m thankful and proud that the ELCA substantiates its ethos by offering Disability Ministries as a part of the mission of the church. My entire career has focused on including and improving opportunities for individuals with disabilities personally, professionally, and culturally, and I look forward to continuing that legacy with my ongoing contributions to Disability Ministries, as we enrich and expand upon the work we do as a team.
Hello, my name is Peter Heide, an ordained minister of the ELCA. I have been both sighted and totally blind four times in my life, and I have experienced many levels of impaired vision throughout. Recognizing that Jesus gathers the marginalized to be the new center (Matt. 4:23-5:1), the ELCA strives to acknowledge the blessed giftedness of all people living with disabilities, enabling them to speak from the margins to the center of our Gospel witness. We are more than prayer concerns—we have a message of hope for the Church. This liberating Gospel work is at the heart of Christianity. As a life-long Lutheran, when I heard “The ELCA: There is a place for you here”, I wondered where that was. I found my answer as the newest member of the Disability Ministries Advisory Team (2017). I am committed to working for full inclusion for all with particular concern for the provision of economical, fully accessible resources for people with low vision, blindness, or a physical, perceptual, or reading disability, whether temporary or permanent. I give thanks for current technology that makes this more possible now, and I pray for the day when “a place for you” is more than an aspiration.
My name is Pastor Brian Krause and I been ordained since 2009. I have served congregations in Nebraska and Ohio. I currently serve as a Chaplain at Sanford Health in Bismarck, North Dakota. I have Cerebral Palsy. I have been active with disability ministries for nearly a decade. I have presented on disability ministry topics around the country. I served as a Bible Study leader for several camp programs for campers with disabilities at Joy Ranch in South Dakota. I have advocated for more resources for Mental Health ministries. Recently I have been working with the Total Inclusion project to make our camps more welcoming of people with disabilities.
Hello Friends! My name is Anita Smallin (she/her), and I have served on the Disability Ministry Advisory team since 2015. My core belief is that the Body of Christ is not complete unless everyone is welcome and has access to the church.
I have led workshops on Disability Ministry at various conferences, have started curating lists of resources, and I have co-authored a few resources for the team.
When I am not working for the team, I am the Director of Youth & Family Ministry at Trinity Lutheran Church, in North Bethesda, MD. On any given day, I can be found singing really loud, cross-stitching, or walking 3 collies.