Field Associate Named for Disabilities Advocacy

Kathy Dickson

Katherine (Kathy) Dickson of Bluffton, Ohio has been appointed as a volunteer Field Associate with Anabaptist Disabilities Network (ADNet), based in Goshen, Indiana.  Field Associates, new to ADNet this year, are long-term volunteers working in the context of their home communities and congregations on projects related to the inclusion of persons with disabilities in churches.

Dickson's appointment grows out of her desire to continue work she began as a Student Associate during the 2009-10 academic year.  Student Associates are named for one year and can receive a scholarship of up to $500 along with their appointment.  

As a Field Associate, Kathy will continue her seminary studies at Methodist Theological School of Ohio, integrating disabilities themes into her course work and giving attention to personal and theological reflections on issues related to disabilities.  She will also work on issues of accessibility and inclusion in her home congregation, First Mennonite Church of Bluffton.

Dickson commented on her new assignment, "When my Student Associate time was up, I felt that there was so much left to do.  ADNet has connected me to resources and to individuals committed to the ongoing work of disabilities advocacy. It has been exciting to find others who are thinking about ways that congregations, faith communities, and individuals of faith can integrate persons of all abilities as full participants. I hope that I may continue to learn from, as well as contribute to, the work of ADNet through this role as Field Associate, as I continue my seminary studies."

ADNet also announced the appointment of a second Field Associate, Sue Cassel of Auburn, Indiana, and a Student Associate for the 2010-11 academic year, Kaely Barwick, a senior social work major at Goshen College, Goshen, Indiana.  
Barwick's work with ADNet will focus on the needs of young children with disabilities and their families. She is originally from Newton, Kansas.

Cassel has written and will soon publish a devotional book especially for parents of children with disabilities. Sue will continue her disability advocacy work in her home congregation, North Leo Mennonite Church, as well as building a network of churches working for inclusion in the area around Fort Wayne, Indiana.

Organized in 2003, Anabaptist Disabilities Network (ADNet) is a national inter-Mennonite advocacy ministry dedicated to supporting families and equipping the church to include persons with all types of disabilities. A member organization of Mennonite Health Services Alliance, ADNet provides resources via print, videos, and two extensive websites from offices in Goshen, Indiana.  

ADNet's Associates Program began in 2006 with the appointment of Christine Guth who now functions as a volunteer half-time Program Associate out of ADNet's Goshen office.  In 2008, a one-year Student Program was added to complement the longer-term Associate program.  The Student Associate Program provides college and seminary students with the opportunity to pursue projects around a disabilities theme and develop resources for the benefit of their local community and ADNet's national network.