By Jessica Griggs for Mennonite Church USA
ELKHART, Indiana (Mennonite Church USA) — Mennonite Church USA (MC USA) strives to live into its Accessibility Resolution at MennoCon23 by removing barriers to make people of all abilities and needs feel welcome. MennoCon23, the denomination’s leading faith formation event, will take place in Kansas City, Missouri, July 3-6.
The Accessibility Resolution encourages the church, at all levels, to prioritize making physical spaces, services and resources accessible to all. The resolution was passed at the May 2022 Special Session of the Delegate Assembly.
“We want to make everyone feel included and accommodated at MennoCon23, and that means living into the Accessibility Resolution’s call to ‘make our community life and facilities accessible and welcoming to all,’” said Lisa Lehman, the MennoCon23 project manager.
MC USA convention planners are working with Anabaptist Disabilities Network (ADN) to ensure that they are offering options and resources that will make this year’s convention accessible to anyone who wants to attend. ADN has collaborated with MC USA on convention accessibility since the 2019 convention in Kansas City.
Jeanne Davies, executive director of ADN, said “It’s important to include people with disabilities when we gather as the people of God, not only because that is right and just but also because we need everybody present in order to be whole.”
Registrants may request accommodations on their registration forms. Convention planners are prepared to provide the following accommodations for MennoCon23, the Youth & Young Adult Climate Summit and the Delegate Assembly, should the need be indicated: convention-provided wheelchairs or scooters, assisted listening devices, large-print materials, materials sent via email to be viewed on personal devices, guided walk-throughs of the convention center, American Sign Language (ASL) interpretation and a quiet/sensory room. People using wheelchairs may also request an aide to help move between seminars and worship services in a timely manner. Other needs may also be accommodated, if registrants indicate those needs on their registration form with enough advanced notice.
Additionally, MennoCon23 will offer Spanish interpretation; accommodations for dietary restrictions; and a private room for lactating mothers to nurse or pump.
Convention planners urge anyone with accessibility needs to register as early as possible and indicate the services they need on the registration form.
“We want to make it possible for anyone who wishes to attend MennoCon23 to be able to do so fully,” said Bonnie Miller, the MennoCon23 accessibility volunteer coordinator. “Registering early and indicating needs on registration forms is extremely helpful for us, so that we can ensure accommodations are in place and ready when MennoCon23 begins.”
Mennonite Church USA is the largest Mennonite denomination in the United States with 16 conferences, approximately 540 congregations and 56,000 members. An Anabaptist Christian denomination, MC USA is part of Mennonite World Conference, a global faith family that includes churches in 59 countries. It has offices in Elkhart, Indiana, and Newton, Kansas. mennoniteUSA.org