Today, we’re highlighting a couple that has dedicated many miles and resources to equipping churches and seminaries with information and training on including people with disabilities in faith communities. Learn more about their story and service below.
As parents of a daughter with severe intellectual disabilities, Ralph and Carol Honderd were determined to use their retirement years to encourage churches to become more intentional in reaching out to families and individuals struggling with the challenges of disabilities. From both personal experience and from talking with other parents, it was obvious to them that pastors and church families were not always aware of the struggles that families of people with disabilities faced.
Nearing retirement, the Honderds decided to purchase a motorhome thinking that they could use it half the time for visiting churches. But, God had His own plan. For the past 12-13 years, nearly all of their travels in that motorhome have been for sharing resources and developing awareness at both churches and seminaries. The Honderds have learned that while a special needs program such as Friendship Ministries or our G.L.U.E. Training is usually a lay ministry, it is crucial that a pastor be supportive if it is going to be successful.
That understanding has resulted in an expansion and focus of their ministry on seminary visits. This has been highly successful; it is obvious that this was God’s idea and He has gone before the Honderds, preparing the way.
The Honderds have presently visited more than one hundred seminaries and have experienced amazing results. More often than not they hear, “This is just the right time for you to bring us this information!” Many seminaries are restructuring to include more practical coursework and/or moving toward more distance learning. The schools appreciate receiving a prepared list of websites that make it easier to find resources for professors and seminarians.
Seminarians have been especially receptive to our DVD course utilizing Barbara J. Newman’s talent and years of experience in disability and inclusion training. The G.L.U.E. Training Manual and DVD is designed for churches; the Honderds include information about it in resource packets for churches and seminaries. Referencing materials from Friendship Ministries and CLC Network helps make inclusion and disability ministry seem more accessible, not just something for experts.
Ralph and Carol are particularly passionate about our church services division, and the goal of empowering and encouraging churches to become inclusive communities.
For years Ralph would attend the morning service and I would go alone at night since one of us had to care for our daughter,” Carol recalls. “It can be such a blessing when a husband and wife can simply worship together. There are so many strains on a marriage when you have a child with disabilities, it is important for the church family to provide respite and a welcome.
With the prayers and support of friends like the Honderds, we can offer training, resources, products, and consulting at reduced rates so that churches may welcome people at all levels of ability into God’s kingdom. To learn more or to support our church services division, visit our website or call 616-245-8388. Learn more about the G.L.U.E. Training and even apply to receive it for FREE on our website.
Elizabeth Lucas Dombrowski is the advancement director at CLC Network.