Disability & Special Needs Ministry

February 2021

All are gifted, needed, and treasured!


But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

2 Corinthians 12:9-10 (NIV)

“Welcome to the Twentieth (20th) edition of the Gulf States Conference (GSC) “Disability, Special Needs, & Possibilities Ministry Newsletter”. The format of remaining issues will focus not only on “secular” disability matters, but also on an endeavor to provide “Spiritual” input to endure these turbulent times. Future editions will be published on a monthly basis.

Because the COVID-19 virus continues to rage, we will cover a variety of subjects on coping with the stress and strain of quarantine mandates. If there is a specific topic you’d like to see addressed, please contact our office at your convenience.

The next few issues will focus on other disability categories as we build towards “Mental Health Month” of May 2021. Please feel free to suggestions on other areas that may be more useful to your church or organization.


Biblical Quotations

Morality cannot be separated from religion. Not all conservative tradition received from educated persons and the writings of outstanding people of the past are a safe guide for us in these last days, for the great struggle before us is such as the world has never seen. (Christ Triumph 124.3)

"Now, more than ever before, the people are responsible for the character of their Congress. If that body be ignorant, reckless, and corrupt, it is because the people tolerate ignorance, recklessness, and corruption. If it be intelligent, brave, and pure, it is because the people demand these high qualities to represent them in the national legislature." - President James Garfield (also a Christian minister) in his centennial address before Congress, 1876



Big picture

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed our world in many ways. People with disabilities, people with chronic health conditions such as heart disease, lung disease, and diabetes, and people over the age of 60, are at a higher risk of becoming infected and most likely to become seriously ill. Safety measures such as social distancing, stay-at-home orders, and the wearing of facemasks or cloth face coverings are now part of our daily lives. For this document, the term “face mask” will be used for both facemasks and cloth face coverings.

Big picture

Wearing a facemask is one important way to slow the spread of COVID-19. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends wearing a facemask in public places like grocery stores and pharmacies, where it is hard to stay six feet apart from other people. Several state and local governments are requiring the use of a facemask when in public spaces.

Wearing a facemask may be difficult for some people with a disability. State and local government agencies or private businesses that want customers to use a facemask may have questions and concerns. This fact sheet offers guidance to questions about the issue of facemask policies, reasons why a person with a disability might not be able to wear a facemask, and the legal rights a person has under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

May a federal, state, or local government agency or a business require customers to wear a facemask?

On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 as a pandemic. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes that studies have shown that many people who do not have symptoms of COVID-19 can spread the virus to other people. Because it takes four to fourteen days for someone to show symptoms, they also may infect others without knowing it. This means that the virus can be shared between people who are close to each other. For example, people who are speaking, coughing, or sneezing may spread the virus even if they do not have symptoms. Therefore, the CDC recommends that people over age two wear a facemask in public where it can be hard to stay six feet apart from others.

Big picture

On February 1, 2021, a federal order took effect requiring travelers to wear facemasks. According to the order from the Centers for Disease Control, passengers on trains, buses, trains and subways, airplanes, ships, taxis, and ride-share services as well as any other mode of transportation must wear facemasks. The order also requires masks at all transportation hubs including airports, bus terminals, seaports, train stations, and U.S. ports of entry. This guidance follows President Biden’s executive order requiring facemasks to be worn on all federal properties.

Based upon the CDC guidance, a business or government agency may require customers to wear a facemask to limit the spread of COVID-19. Guidance from the CDC is likely to change as the COVID-19 pandemic evolves. Therefore, private businesses and government agencies should follow the most current information on maintaining safety by reviewing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Coronavirus (COVID-19) information (cdc.gov).

The first case regarding the ADA and facemasks was decided on October 23, 2020, in the Federal District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania. The Court denied a preliminary injunction in the case of Pletcher v. Giant Eagle Inc. - If granted; the injunction would have required Giant Eagle Inc. to change its policy of requiring all customers to wear a facemask or other face-covering inside their store. In this case, sixty-nine plaintiffs filed a class-action suit claiming Giant Eagle Groceries violated Title III of the ADA by denying access to customers who claimed they could not wear a facemask due to their disabilities. In the ruling, U.S. District Judge Nora Barry Fischer determined that the store’s facemask policy was a correct interpretation of the Pennsylvania Department of Health’s order that facemasks are to be worn in public spaces and that those who cannot wear them a facemask may instead wear a face shield. Giant Eagle noted in their defense that they had in place other modifications to policy and practice consistent with ADA Title III to accommodate customers with disabilities.


Cures for loneliness.

By Melissa Kirsch

Welcome. I’ve been absorbed in tales of other people’s lives this week: a Times Magazine feature about the Princeton professor Dan-el Padilla Peralta, who sees classics as complicit in systemic injustice and is “advocating reforms that would ‘explode the canon’ and ‘overhaul the discipline from nuts to bolts.’” The Times documentary “Framing Britney,” about Britney Spears and the court-ordered conservatorship she’s been under since 2013. A story about the mental training of the Polish tennis player Iga Swiatek, a favorite at the Australian Open. A profile of the writer Patricia Lockwood, who has a new novel out next week.

It’s one of my salves for loneliness, going deep, learning about someone else’s life. It’s easy, especially now, 10 months into the pandemic, to feel like the world’s gotten small. Stories help. Whatever keeps you connected, curious, and aware of the vastness of experience helps.

“I have started a blog, where I write stories from my everyday life and I share thoughts and incidents that I wish I could tell to the people I love in person,” wrote Eleni G. from Ann Arbor, Mich.

Podcasts help Carrie B. in Morton, Wash., feel less isolated: “If I’m knitting alone, I put on a knitting podcast (there are more of them than you might expect!). This transforms my knitting alone experience so I feel like I’m knitting with friends. There’s a conversation going on, and we are all doing the same thing. If I’m cooking, I’ll listen to food podcasts to the same effect.”

Amanda B. in Manhattan Beach, Calif., sends notes from home: “During my weekly grocery run I pick up a few tourist postcards (or you can make them with everyday materials found at home). They are quick and easy to write, my loved ones enjoy getting a personalized note with a beautiful picture on the front and I feel more connected to that person.”

JoAnn R. is connecting with her past: “Having kept a journal since 1956, I’d always meant to transcribe them, and the pandemic seemed as good a time as any. It’s been like time travel. Many of my cast of characters are gone. So in that respect, I’ve felt like a magician: There they are, alive and well again. When I take a deep dive into the past, I’m young, married, and rearing my children, traveling, working, all my dogs are alive and exuberant. My parents and friends speak comforting words just as they always did.”


  • There’s a new season of the excellent anthology series “The Sinner.” Each season is a different mystery; the common thread is Bill Pullman as the quirky Detective Harry Ambrose. Season 3 just as suspenseful and scary as the previous two.


New York Times

ADA Disability & COVID 19

SITE ADDRESS: https://www.adasoutheast.org/ada/publications/legal/ada-and-face-mask-policies.php

Published by

George Hamilton

Assistant Disability Ministry Director

Gulf States Conference of Seventh-day Adventists

H. 256-883-7751

C. 850-543-1398

E. gsc-disability@gscsda.org

Disabilities & Special Needs Ministry Goals

Support pastors and local church disabilities ministry coordinators in setting up programs to improve in the including people with disabilities in worship, work, service and leadership, and provide current information and resources on disability related issues for church leaders.
Big picture