From 10th to 15th April 2016, EDAN Regional Coordinators and Reference Group members held their biennial meeting together with EDAN’s Commissioners to various WCC Commissions and members of the National Board at Nyali Beach International Hotel, Mombasa Kenya. 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 meeting was the second after the WCC 10th General Assembly in Busan.
At the start of the meeting, a message of affirmation was received from the WCC 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 Fykse Tveit 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 focused 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 agreed to several recommendations.
First, EDAN will become a growing source of knowledge in theology and disability by establishing an “e-library,” or online collection of resources, bringing together books published by EDAN as well as other relevant materials, particularly those that churches have developed on inclusive worship. Second, EDAN will seek more partners to continue work on theology and disability. It was also agreed that EDAN needs to reflect on its understanding of what the phrase “mission from the margins” means in the context of its work. This phrase, representing a new paradigm for mission, unites Christians and other people of faith in solidarity and hospitality with those whose lives are jeopardized by poverty, illness and violence. Finally, members agreed to plan a forum to reflect on what a “pilgrimage of justice and peace” means to people 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.