United Methodist National Task Force on Disability Ministries is a group of Christians devoted to making every place of worship a welcoming place for individuals with all disabilities, realizing that each person has unique gifts and graces.

The group offers assistance to United Methodists and other congregations by providing resources for education, support, and advocacy for disability ministry.  For more information visit their web page at umcdmc.org.

The Task Force is sponsored by General Board of Global Ministries (GBGM) and operates through the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) as part of its Health Concerns office.

Photo above: Lara Wagner provides sign language interpretation during the May 19 session of the 2016 United Methodist General Conference in Portland, Ore. Double exposure by Paul Jeffrey, UMNS.

Bristol church sponsors baseball team for special-needs kids

By Rosa Slavik

BRISTOL, Va. (April 11, 2017) -- On Saturday, April 8, the Bristol Challenger Little League kicked off its season in a big way. At 10 a.m., players in the league paraded around Boyce Cox Field, home of the Bristol Pirates, then headed to the Bristol East Little League Field to play a jamboree that began at noon. 

Heading off the games, Glenmary Gardens faced Trinity (UMC) Optimists. No score was kept. No outs recorded. But there was a definite winner: The players. 

The Bristol Challenger Little League was formed to allow mentally and physically challenged children and youth, ages 4-19, the opportunity to play baseball. These individuals, due to their special needs, often cannot play on other Little League teams. 

Trinity United Methodist Church was contacted about sponsoring a team and providing volunteers to assist players on the field. Trinity jumped at the opportunity. The Trinity Optimists took the field with 25 members of the congregation cheering from the stands or assisting on the field. 

Trinity's pastor, the Rev. Rosa Slavik said, “I sat there, and watched those kids get so excited about playing ball. And I just lost it. I cried, knowing that the players finally had a chance to be part of something so special. It is hard to put into words how I felt.”   

This is the inaugural year of the Challenger League for Bristol Little League, but the community support has shown that it will not be the last.