Inclusive Faith-Based Communities Symposium
Faith communities may have issues, questions, and concerns that affect their ability and willingness to welcome and fully include people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). Many faith communities in Texas have done a great deal to advocate for and serve the needs of Texans with IDD. Many are interested in networking and connecting with other organizations to receive training and assistance to provide an environment and services that would allow them to be more inclusive.
Partner with the local faith‐based community to enhance and facilitate full inclusiveness of people with IDD into the faith communities of their choice. Two faith‐based symposiums, over three years, will be developed and held to share information on inclusive practices.
The project held two symposiums in 2013 and 2015. The first Symposium was titled “Better Together”. Following the first symposium, partnerships were established with local and statewide participants to identify more diverse speakers, with a focus on including more self-advocates. A multichannel communications strategy was used to market the symposium including brochures, the IDD Council website, and social media.
The second symposium, “Celebrating Community: Shared Gifts, Shared Service, Shared Lives” was a single day event with a roundtable dialogue the night before. The symposium had 122 participants including individuals with IDD and featured local politicians, faith leaders, and Dr. Erik W. Carter, a nationally known author, academic, and leader on inclusive faith communities.
The event included keynote addresses, self-advocate panels, and a performance. The symposium used an art project, music, and performances to include and engage participants. The panels included more than a dozen faith traditions. Participants were asked to speak from their personal experience, a perspective that inspired many of the symposium attendees. Symposium participants were given a volunteer opportunity at a Church Respite Care Program and invited to a post-symposium panel on teaching religious matter to persons with IDD.