Music By Laurel Jean

Music By Laurel Jean
Music with a Message and a Mission

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Sharing God's Guiding Glimpses into my Life of Music and Ministry

Monday, October 13, 2014

Continuing Education

I am pictured below with my fellow classmates from the United Methodist Heritage course offered this fall by the Charleston, SC District of the United Methodist Church. I have thoroughly enjoyed continuing my Christian education in this way, and participating in the life of the church as a Certified Lay Servant. The textbooks are available as Kindle electronic books. While the Kindle device is not really accessible to those of us who are blind, I can read Kindle books with the Kindle app on my iPhone or my computer, using the Voiceover app with its speech synthesizer or my Braille display.

I believe that one of the greatest challenges for any blind student is educating the sighted people in the classroom environment on the subjects of sensitivity and awareness. They don't know, and they don't know that they don't know until we tell them that they don't know. Sometimes, that process is a very lonely and humiliating time for any blind individual who takes on a system that is not used to being inclusive. Blind students on any level are invariably left out or singled out albeit unintentionally.

I do see progress in the church on the local level and beyond pertaining to the inclusion and empowerment of people with disabilities, and that is very refreshing.  People everywhere need to be made more aware of the different abilities of all, and I am honored to be among those whom God has chosen for that process.

Speaking of that, both Audrey and I were chosen and certified earlier this year by the United Methodist Women to serve as study leaders for the class "The Church and People With Disabilities,"  part of the UMW "Mission u" (formerly the "School of Missions." We were called last fall and began the certification process earlier this year. We had to read ten books, plus the course textbook and leader's guide. Then, we went for intensive training in Charlotte, NC where God put it on our hearts to teach the people who had been certified to teach us. After our certification process, we led the study on the South Carolina state level and were encouraged to submit our information for consideration on the national level. We are honored to have been selected to lead this study again next year on the South Carolina State Conference level.

The Americans With Disabilities Act was passed in 1990. Now, churches are beginning to realize that providing accommodations for people with all types of disabilities is more than just political correctness. It is our duty as members of the Body of Christ to empower one another to serve our Lord together.

Laurel with her 2014 Lay Servant Ministry UMC Heritage Class

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A Little About Me

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God continues to bless me with a busy and fulfilling life. Even after thirty-plus years, my music and ministry keep going and growing. Blind from birth, I am n avid user of Braille and the long, white cane, in addition to a variety of mainstream and access technology. While my blindness does not define me, I consider it to be a unique gift from God. With this gift comes my opportunity to serve as an advocate on behalf of my fellow members of the Blindness community, living and serving among blind and sighted folks of all ages, on all walks of life. To learn more about my music, ministry and outreach, please visit my Web site, and be sure to stay tuned to my Blog!