TEAM Belong (That Every Ability May Belong; formerly known as Inclusion Awareness Day), is a ministry designed to create a sense of belonging among Orthodox Christians with disabilities, as well their families, in their parishes. Inspired by Romans 15:7, “Therefore, welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God”, TEAM Belong’s efforts culminate every year in October when parishes designate and celebrate one Sunday of the month as Inclusion Awareness Day. By observing this day, the ministry hopes to further educate parishioners about the needs of people with physical, intellectual, emotional and sensory disabilities in our midst, as well as to recognize the tremendous value they add to our community.
TEAM Belong also supports parishes by awarding grants up to $1,000. Here are a few examples of the parishes who received grants: St. Andrew’s added an outdoor ramp, St. John the Baptist defrayed their cost for an interior ramp, Holy Apostles installed handrails at solea, and Sts. Constantine and Helen installed automatic door openers to their main church.
We feel we belong when we are accepted: personal interactions over time let us know we are accepted for who we are.
We feel we belong when we are cared for: when people care about us by showing concern.
We feel we belong when we are befriended: when we have developed friendships with members of our community.
We feel we belong when we feel needed: when we contribute to the community and our contributions are recognized and appreciated.
That Every Ability May Belong challenges our parishes to move beyond inclusion to belonging. The goal is to create parishes and religious schools where individuals of all abilities belong, working alongside their brothers and sisters in faith.