Ushers from Lifeline Partnership* in matching t-shirts welcomed attendees observing the 25th anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in 1990 to an interfaith worship service on July 26, 2015 at First Trinity Lutheran Church in D.C.
“It was a terrific event,” said the Rev. Susanne Blume, Lifeline Partnership Executive Director, of the service sponsored by the Lutheran Services in America Disability Network (LSA-DN) in partnership with the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) and the Interfaith Disability Advocacy Coalition. “There must have been 30 wheelchairs in the space, and the sanctuary was full.”
Genesis of the ADA is traced to the United Methodist Building in D.C. where LSA is currently headquartered, states the LSA website. When George H.W. Bush took office, he undertook a major effort to write and pass the ADA. A representative was sent from the President’s office to the building where a coalition of over 100 different organizations met weekly. It was there that the ADA was written, edited, and perfected.**
“Before President George H.W. Bush signed the ADA 25 years ago… a blessing was offered by the Reverend Harold H. Wilke, a United Church of Christ minister and longtime advocate for people with disabilities who was himself armless,” reported Curtis Ramsey-Lucas, director of Interfaith Engagement for AAPD. “It is believed to be the only time a prayer has been part of a Presidential signing ceremony.”***
“Rev. Wilke prayed that God would ‘strengthen our resolve as we take up the task, knowing, our work has just begun,’” said Ramsey-Lucas in his opening remarks at the worship service. “So it is that we gather here today, with twenty-five years of history and experience behind us, better understanding, perhaps, the prophetic nature of those words and the wisdom that they hold for us still.”
* With origins in the ministry of First Trinity Lutheran Church, Lifeline Partnership serves the spiritual and the social needs of people with developmental disabilities.
** Excerpted from LSA’s Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) 25th Anniversary page
*** Read full post, “Rev. Harold Wilke’s Blessing Twenty-Five Years Ago a Prophetic Call to Action Today,” in AAPD Power Grid blog (7/24/15)