People Living with Disabilities

The title of the 2010 ELCA social message, “People Living with Disabilities,” makes a significant point in identifying an emphasis on people who are living with disabilities, rather than categorizing some people as “handicapped” or “disabled.” The message challenges the common mindset that equates self-sufficiency and independence with freedom and humanity, often regarding or treating people living with disabilities as less fully human than others or as objects dependent on charitable care.

The message is grounded in the biblical view of human beings finding freedom in relationships and community. It commits the ELCA to seek full inclusion and equitable participation of all people within the life of society and the church, embracing the whole person — abilities, questions, complexities and all.

“People Living with Disabilities” teaches that God, as creator and sustainer, intends that society regard all people to be of equal worth and take responsibility to make possible participation by all people freely and fully in every aspect of our life together. Through that lens, the message looks at social facts and challenges current policies around employment and poverty, education, family caregiving, the caring professions, disabled veterans and citizenship. It concludes that, while progress has been made, much remains for us to do in both church and society to ensure inclusion and justice for people living with disabilities.

You can read or download the full social message on “People Living with Disabilities” in English or en español. This social message was adopted in 2010 by the Church Council of the ELCA.


Social Message (en)



Social Message (esp)



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