The image is a screenshot of nine participants in a Zoom meeting on providing communal care for deaf people. Five of them are making the American Sign Language sign for the phrase 'I love you.'

“We’ve got some work to do.” Increasing accessibility through ASL

For the past few years, New Church Ministry has worked hard to make its services accessible to Disciples across the United States and Canada.

It has provided Pentecost Offering resources in different languages, including Korean, Spanish, and French.

The ministry has recorded all of its New Church Hacks episodes so that people who can’t be present at the time can view the webinars at a later date.

Despite these developments, New Church Ministry hasn’t provided accommodations for those with hearing impairments or hearing loss.

“This year of social isolation has reminded me that there are people who feel isolated because they can’t hear the conversation that’s happening in the room,” shared Pastor Terrell L McTyer (Minister of New Church Strategies). “And we need to be more inclusive.”

That’s why he organized The New Wave Pentecost Series: Exploring American Sign Language (ASL) in Communal Care with My SupaNatural Life, a non-profit organization dedicated to making (w)holistic spiritual care accessible to those that need it the most, including those living with chronic conditions and their support systems. The virtual event featured art, videos, signing lessons, and interviews with panellists, who were all accompanied by an ASL interpreter on screen.

The image is a screenshot of nine participants in a Zoom meeting on providing communal care for deaf people. Five of them are making the American Sign Language sign for the word 'love.'
Pastor Terrell notes the similarities between the sign for the word ‘love’ and the symbol of “Wakanda forever” from the movie The Black Panther.

“600,000 people in the United States are deaf, and more than half are 65 years of age or older. Six million people in America report having a lot of trouble hearing,” reported Rev. YaNi Davis, My SupaNatural Life’s founder and someone who experiences hearing loss herself. “It felt timely to expand our education.”

There are 357,000 culturally Deaf Canadians and 3.21 million hard of hearing Canadians. ASL is the primary sign language used in Canada.

Participants of the event even learned how to sign the chorus from Kool and the Gang’s song “Celebration” from health educator Dr. Ashia James Ph.D.

Most importantly, the webinar provided an opportunity for people who use ASL or are deaf to share their experiences.

“It was powerful to hear the stories of those who are deaf or hard of hearing,” said Wesley King, Program Coordinator. “These experiences gave you insight into their lives and compels you to find ways that you can be more empathetic and understanding.”

Gaining insight into deaf lives

The first time I saw Ashley, she walked into a party and started screaming,” remembers panelist Alyssa Lucchesi, a recent graduate of Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT)’s ASL program. “I was ready to go to bed, so I thought, ‘who is this girl with all this sound right now?’ because deaf spaces are very loud. The music’s bumping because deaf people love to feel that bass.” 

Alyssa met her friend and fellow panellist Ashley M, who is deaf, in her first year at RIT. While they both worked as leaders at a camp for deaf youth called EYF (Explore Your Future), Ashley doesn’t consider herself a guide.

“When we’re talking about teamwork, I see myself as a peer,” clarifies Ashley. “It’s very important to be actively listening and actively watching.”

Panellist Sharon Meek was also exposed to ASL in an educational setting when she became a P.E. teacher at the Atlanta Area School for the Deaf. Her students’ experiences with hearing loss or deafness were emblematic of the ones shared by more than one panellist.

“There were kids that we taught that were deaf from birth or that had some sort of illness that caused them to lose their hearing,” recalls Sharon. “It went all the way down the continuum to those who were hard of hearing who could not function in a typical classroom.” 

Things we need to do next

Over the hour spent together, attendees from as far away as Arizona, Indiana, Virginia, Georgia, Minnesota, Texas, and Michigan were taught how to expand accessibility and care for deaf and hard-of-hearing folks in their communities.

  • Always include folks who are hard of hearing or deaf. Welcome them into the discussion.
  • Be mindful when making videos. Think about who’s around you and in your environment. When you’re posting it to social media, ask yourself, how can I make it more visual using captions or other tools? You can turn on closed captions for YouTube videos. Zoom also recently introduced a closed captioning feature, but if it cannot generate captions, there are third parties that can do so. Make sure that the letters are large enough for people to read.
  • Don’t be afraid or self-conscious about not knowing how to communicate with deaf people. Even waving, saying hello, or making eye contact are big things.
  • If you’re interested in becoming an ASL interpreter, meet some deaf people, become involved, and learn the language. See if it’s for you before you register for a tech program and make a career out of it. If you want to get certified, you need a four-year degree (RIT, the University of Arizona, and Tarrant County College are good places to start). Still, you don’t need a degree if you want to interpret. Please be aware that this can pose problems for deaf people as they are the ones that suffer from unqualified interpreters. Know the spaces you’re in.
  • If you really want to support the deaf community, learn about some deaf history. Meet some deaf friends and socialize. Pick up the language that way.

If you registered for our ASL event, then you’ve been automatically registered for future installments of The New Wave Pentecost Series, including our neurodiversity webinar on July 24 at 2:00 PM PST and our English as a Second Language webinar on October 23 at 2:00 PM PST. If you haven’t already signed up, you can do so here.

Stay tuned for additional information as it becomes available!

Throwing out the agenda at the Hopeful Economics UnConference

With over a year of remote working experience, many homebound workers are wary of signing up for yet another online event due to “Zoom fatigue.” Passively sitting in front of a screen while a stranger shares information or fumbles with a poor Internet connection leads many of us to multi-task, largely ignoring what’s taking place in front of us. With that in mind, New Church Ministry and EDGE: A Network for Ministry Development organized their recent virtual gathering, the Hopeful Economics UnConference, so that both participants and featured guests could actively inform and lead the topics of discussion.

Using Whova, an event management software, attendees explored trends in the nonprofit sector, systemic change issues, and the relationship between faith and social enterprise. As they grappled with “hopeful economics,” or making the world’s assets and abundance work for everyone, Pastor Terrell L McTyer, Minister of New Church Strategies, kept up the energy as the Master of Ceremonies.

Getting into the right mindset

To prepare registrants for an agenda filled with deep discussions and challenging sessions, the first day was structured as a pre-conference. After an introduction from Pastor Terrell and Rev. Michael Blair, Executive Secretary of the United Church of Canada, speakers presented two different streams for folks in communities of faith and others in social purpose organizations. Those in the faith stream learned some social justice history and discussed economics, from conversations on the global economy as “God’s Economy” to the economic impact of churches. They also heard from Darnell Fennell of the National Benevolent Association, who shared what social enterprise has to do with faith, and Presbyterian Church USA, which shared some tips and tricks on creating partnerships.

Social purpose organizations focused on social enterprises and pitching for partnerships as well, with additional conversations on place-based innovation in rural settings and making equitable financial decisions that particularly affect BIPOC.

As participants waited for the second day of the UnConference, they were encouraged to visit the exhibitor booths online and engage with one another over discussion boards. According to Whova, the UnConference had more interactions than the average event on its website.

Creating new connections

The second day was full of opportunities for attendees to change their perspective on collaboration.

The two morning sessions were described as fishbowls, designed to bring people of faith and those in the social sector together to discuss the meaning of “hopeful economics.”

The afternoon session saw attendees play an interactive thinking game. Split into breakout rooms and given hypothetical resources, they were asked to address “attitudes to mental health.” The various groups found creative ways to make the “mission possible.”

Closing out the UnConference

As in the previous day, the final day of the Hopeful Economics UnConference ran morning and afternoon sessions, but this time, participants set the tone. Three breakout rooms were made available for them to join, each with their own specific discussion topic. Attendees were encouraged to drop into whichever group that appealed to them and move among groups as they wished. In total, 12 topics had been covered and attendees truly adhered to the UnConference ethos, keeping open minds and adapting to a sudden change in schedule.

Keeping the hopeful spirit alive

For three days, our ministry, together with EDGE, witnessed people across the United States and Canada form meaningful bonds and demonstrate thoughtful approaches to small discussion groups. We heard from incredible panelists and were uplifted by the enthusiasm of participants from various denominations. As many of us move into several more months of working from home, we continue to be inspired by those increasing their impact and addressing community needs.

Introducing the Water the Plants Prayer Summit

Since last summer, Disciples from across the life of the church have been praying for the new church movement.

New Church Ministry’s (NCM) church-wide Water the Plants (WtP) initiative has faithfully gathered together prayer intercessors every Tuesday morning and Thursday evening on the phone to prioritize the spiritual discipline of prayer and ask God to care for new congregations, as well as congregational, regional, and general ministers of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada. We are grateful for this dedicated team that supports new worship expressions.


Become a prayer intercessor with Water the Plants


NCM is excited to introduce our inaugural prayer-focused virtual event, the Water the Plants Prayer Summit, on Saturday, March 6th, 2021, from 1 pm to 3 pm EST

Attendees will pray for restoration, strength, transformation, creativity, rejuvenation, and connections. The gathering will include teaching, scripture, musical and spoken word performances, and so much more. Participants will experience testimony from various church planters on how prayer has influenced their emerging collectives’ development.

With NCM Associate Minister and WtP Coordinator, Joi Robinson hosting the event, our first ever Prayer Summit is a unique opportunity not to be missed. It is our hope that participants will leave feeling closer to their faith and one another, inspired to clarify their vision and mission, and with a renewed passion for experiencing a meaningful prayer life.

Schedule and guest list

5:00          Summit Introduction – Joi Robinson

30:00        Fellowship/Testimony – Nerleb Likisap, Francisco Ramos, Soriliz Rodriguez

5:00 Prayer – Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), OGMP, General Ministries – Lori Tapia

5:00          Prayer – Regions – Bill Rose Heim

5:00          Prayer – Leadership, Vision, Mission, Values – Syvoskia Bray Pope

5:00          Prayer – Resources, Finances, Stewardship – Rosario Ibarra

—–

5:00          Scripture Shower – Adria L. Patterson

5:00          Prayer – Creativity, Innovation, Training – Joey Ctto

5:00          Prayer – Coaching, Connections, and Relationships – Judy Cummings

5:00          Song – Dean Phelps 

20:00        Fellowship and Testimony – Luis Threat

5:00          Outro – Joi Robinson

Learn about the economic impact of churches

Join New Church Ministry and EDGE: A Network for Ministry Development from Wednesday, March 3, 2021 to Friday, March 5, 2021 at the Hopeful Economics UnConference! “Hopeful Economics” is a way of looking at the world of the assets and abundance that it has and making that work for everyone. And “UnConference” is when topics and discussions are informed by the people who show up. Attendees will be helping lead the direction of the conversations!  

With an incredible lineup of speakers, including Rev. Darnell Fennel (Director of Social Entrepreneurship at the National Benevolent Association), you will dive deep into the relationship between social enterprise and faith. You’ll also learn how to pitch your community of faith to form new partnerships. 

Participate in fun and interactive sessions that will challenge you to work with unsuspecting partners to increase your impact and address community needs.

New ideas and connections are guaranteed. All communities of faith are welcome!

For details (including a full agenda and registration), please visit: https://whova.com/web/virtu20_202012/.

In addition to being the Master of Ceremonies, Pastor Terrell L McTyer (Minister of New Church Strategies) will kick off the first day of the event:

Wednesday, March 3rd

Welcome – What to expect and how to be ready for this Unconference

10:00 am – 10:30 am EST

Description

Join us for a live introduction to Whova and how to get the most out of this Unconference!

– the schedule and an overview of the events
– Exhibitor section and how to set up a booth
– Interactivity – Gamification and discussion boards
– getting access to pitch coaches

Now you are ready to connect with people and get great ideas.

Our official hashtag for the event is #hopefuleconomics. Follow along on social media for more updates about our speakers and sessions!

New Church Ministry is proud to be both a sponsor and coordinator of this event.

Rick Reisinger Announces Retirement Plans

Indianapolis, Indiana – On Monday, January 11, 2021, Erick D. ‘Rick’ Reisinger, President of Disciples Church Extension Fund (DCEF), shared his plans with the DCEF Board and staff to retire at year’s end –December 31, 2021. 

“This decision has been a long time in coming and is the result of a very personal discernment process,” Rick notes. “My wife and children have been after me for quite a while to spend more time with them and my grandchildren. I am thankful for the grace they’ve shown me as I’ve worked this out. I think the time to take this step is right, both for me and this ministry.”

Reisinger joined the Board of Church Extension, as it was then called, as an intern in the summer of 1975. Even as a teenager he knew he wanted to serve the church he had grown up in but not as a pastor as his father and both grandfathers had. Instead, following graduation from Culver-Stockton College with a major in business administration and economics, Rick joined the staff a year later in the areas of treasury, accounting and investments. In the 45 years since, he has worked in every aspect of the ministry in a variety of roles including, but not limited to, Assistant Treasurer (1977), Secretary and Assistant Treasurer (1988), Executive Vice President and Secretary (1995), Executive Vice President and Treasurer (2001) and President (2012).

“It has been my honor to serve congregations, regions, and other ministries and organizations by managing financial responsibilities to support their work and inspire and empower them to create Holy Places where people connect with God, each other and the community,” Rick explains. “I thank current and former staff, board members and church-wide leaders who made this possible, especially during the stressful times of economic crises we’ve experienced over the last 40 years.” 

Throughout his career, Rick has helped DCEF successfully navigate such challenges, including record high interest rates in the late 70s and early 80s; the Dotcom collapse of the late 90s; the 2007-08 recession when the real estate bubble burst and the stock market crashed; and, the current pandemic of 2020-21. Through DCEF, he lives out his faith and love for the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) by finding innovative ways to meet the financial needs of new and existing congregations and other ministries so they may thrive. Under Rick’s leadership DCEF remains focused, not on the past, but on the future of its ministry partners.

“Church Extension Fund was started in 1883 to help new congregations finance the construction of their Houses of Worship,” Rick notes. “It has been my privilege to serve this mission for nearly a third of the last 138 years. I will continue to do so, fully present, as I lead DCEF through this time of transition to the end of the year,” he pledges. “Disciples Church Extension Fund is a part of me. I will be forever grateful for this experience and supportive of this ministry.”