Press Release EDAN Regional Coordinators and Reference Group meeting.
The Regional Coordinators and Reference Group members of EDAN held their biennial meeting together with EDAN’s Commissioners to various WCC Commissions and members of the EDAN National Board at Nyali Beach International Hotel, Mombasa Kenya from 10th to 15th April 2016. The 24 member group engaged in four days of intensive discussion to reenvision EDAN’s role and set strategic priorities for the emerging leadership.
The WCC work on disability was previously based in Geneva, Switzerland but faced intermittent interruptions mainly due to finances. However, after the 8th WCC General Assembly in 1998 the work was placed under a Network of volunteer Regional Coordinators who have established themselves as disability advocates. EDAN remains a programme of the World Council of Churches under Unity Mission and Ecumenical Relations. EDAN’s main purpose is to advocate for the inclusion, participation and active involvement of persons with disabilities in all aspects of the life of the church and Society. As a decentralized programme EDAN has been operating with significant autonomy and the growing network has continued to contribute to awareness raising, theological reflection, capacity building and collaboration among persons with disabilities.
A message of affirmation was received from the General Secretary. Skype discussions were also held with the Associate General Secretary for Mission and the Programme Executive in charge of the Mission from the margins. Rev. Dr. Olav FykseTveit reassured the group of his personal and professional commitment to the continuation of the work on disability and congratulated the group for the innovative and selfless contributions which had maintained EDAN for the 18 years. This affirmation was in line with the call of the 9th General Assembly in Porto Alegre, Brazil which was reiterated by the 10th General Assembly in Busan, Korea.
Regional reports presented by coordinators were received and adopted by the meeting. However the common challenge from the Regions was that more work was needed in the area of women with disabilities, refugees with disabilities, a need for attention to the issue of the ordination of persons with disabilities and equal opportunities for ministry of ordained persons with disabilities.
The meeting focussed on identifying the immediate work EDAN seeks to continue. EDAN priorities for the 2018-2021 Strategic Plan were discussed and included a focus on Women, Children, youth and older persons with disabilities; Violence that impacts persons with disabilities and creates disabilities. The new statement on disability “a Gift of Being” was reviewed by the group before it’s presentation to the next meeting of the Central Committee. The overarching WCC theme of Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace was reviewed from a disability perspective.
While looking at the future of EDAN succession, regional coordination, and funding, the members acknowledged that EDAN was at a turning point. The EDAN Executive Secretary will be retiring and a new person will be hired soon. A succession plan that had been drafted by the Associate General Secretary for Unity and Mission was shared with the members through print and Skype, and discussions were held regarding those plans.
At the end of the consultation participants resolved to unite in a common purpose in the growth of EDAN for the advancement of the course of Persons with disabilities and made the following recommendations:
1. EDAN becomes a fountain of knowledge in the area of Theology and Disability and towards this, establish an e-library that brings together all the books that have been published by EDAN as e-books or books in PDF format and other materials that have been developed by Churches on inclusive worship.
2. More partners be sought and brought on board to continue the work on Theology and Disability that will cease to be funded by ChristofelBlindenMission (CBM) owing to their change of prioritiesnext year.
3. A reflectionbe done on the understanding of what “Mission from the Margins” mean to us.
4. Have a forum to reflect what a Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace means to persons with disabilities.
EDAN looks forward to a future of continued work and dialogue to foster the full participation of persons with disability in the churches and in the WCC.