2022 Resolution #1:
Disability Sensitivity Training

Secretary of the Convention

Last Update: July 31st, 2022


This proposed resolution is being reviewed by the Committee on Resolutions and may not be in its final form.

Resolved, That the 173rd Convention of the Diocese of California affirms the commitment of The Episcopal Church to full inclusion of disabled and Deaf people in all aspects of Church life;  

Resolved, That this Convention will, by October 29, 2023, begin requiring training on disability sensitivity and anti-ableism to be provided, and repeated every three years, for all Diocesan and congregational hiring personnel; and

Resolved, That this Convention requests that its diocesan deputation submit a similar resolution calling on The Episcopal Church, at its 81st General Convention, and by resolution or otherwise, to promptly make available effective, comprehensive, and Church-wide anti-ableism and disability sensitivity training programs for both lay and clergy leaders of the Church.


The Episcopal Church has, for many decades, made commitments to welcome and include disabled and Deaf people in Church life (via General Convention 2018-D0972018-D0902015-D0432009-D032 and 1985-A087). Notwithstanding these commitments, disabled and Deaf people are one part of the Beloved Community who continue to be excluded in 2022 from many aspects of congregational life and discriminated against and/or rejected in hiring, promotion, postulancy, Holy Orders, and ordination.

The Church of England has created an exemplary model for equity, inclusion, and welcoming disabled and Deaf people in all aspects of Church life. Indeed, most dioceses of the Church of England have a Disability Officer on staff, and many resources for trainings and awareness from the parish level to the Church-wide level can be found here. The Church of England regularly holds disability sensitivity and awareness trainings in each diocese, and held a virtual Disability Conference in 2021 on disability inclusion and awareness.

The 171st Convention of the Diocese of California established the Task Force on Disability and Deaf Access, which has created a Best Practices Guide for voluntary physical and programmatic accessibility improvements in diocesan congregations and institutions. Nonetheless, permanent reduction in discrimination requires us to confront internal and unconscious biases regarding disability and Deafness, learn about and understand systemic ableism and audism, and recognize the impact of bias, systemic ableism, and stereotypes within the employment and leadership of our Church. A training on disability sensitivity and awareness, which presents such a confrontation, cannot be obtained from a Best Practices Guide. Indeed, we require anti-racism trainings and Safe Church trainings of most, if not all, of our lay and clergy leaders. 

Disabled and Deaf people make up roughly 20 percent of any population, per most counts prior to 2020. Additionally, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, tens of thousands of people have acquired a disability of one kind or another, meaning the percentage of disabled and Deaf people in America may now be higher than before.

In living into our Baptismal Covenant, and as we go about ensuring that our clergy and lay leaders reflect the body of the Church, it is imperative that we consciously and affirmatively address the lack of disabled and Deaf clergy and lay leaders and voices. Requiring periodic anti-ableism and disability sensitivity training for lay and clergy leaders will help to eliminate additional barriers for disabled and Deaf people who wish to answer a call to Holy Orders or otherwise serve in leadership roles within our diocese and our Church.

Submitted by:
The Task Force on Disability and Deaf Access for the Episcopal Diocese of California
Jack Fagan, Chair - jackf@gracecathedral.org
Janet Christiansen – janetchristensen@sbcglobal.net

Bruce Morrow -- bvmorrow6801@sbcglobal.net

Karma Quick-Panwala - karmamyatt@hotmail.com

Jan Robitscher – jbrobit@aol.com

Endorsed by:

The Ven. Hailey McKeefry Delmas, Archdeacon

The Rev. Mary Carter Greene, Grace Cathedral, San Francisco

Sarah Lawton, St. John the Evangelist, San Francisco

The Rev. Dr. Ruth Meyers, Church Divinity School of the Pacific, Berkeley

The Rev. Jennifer Nelson – Co-chair, Commission on Ministry

The Rev. Cameron Partridge, St. Aidan’s, San Francisco

The Rev. Beth Phillips – Christ Church, Portola Valley and Woodside; Chair, Commission on Ministry