I strongly feel that places of worship may be our quickest path towards full inclusion. This does not exclude the work we have to do in Corporate America, public places (restaurants, venues, and stores), recreational outlets, and public transportation, but don't all these components exist in some way, shape, or form in a church, temple, or mosque? Don't we find people who are in a position to hire, or coach a sport, or have a means to transport? Isn't the place of worship where individuals are supposed to have open minds, open hearts and from those open doors?

Most people want to do what's right but when they don't know how they are discriminating or simply not allowing for access and proper response to what would allow for inclusion of all individuals, the need to sensitize and educate is necessary and should be made a top agenda item.

After two and a half years of progressive movement towards the Diocese of Buffalo understanding and embracing this initiative, we hit the pinnacle yesterday when 22 parish (disability) advocates were commissioned by Bishop Kmiec. I was one of those individuals as I will represent my parish in progressing towards total inclusion.

Now I am realist and know our work is far from done, really it hasn't even started. We are working on a grant to train clergy, council members, and the congregation. We are going to develop working manuals and ensure resources are available. Parishes will develop committees (that will have representation with individuals with disabilities) and they will guide and direct the church to ensure all will be accepted. But yesterday as I stood on the altar receiving my commission from the Bishop, I realized we had turned the corner. Our committee work (the Diocese Disability Action Team) was realized and embraced.

I then was one of four presenters and was able to educate the Respect Life coordinators and the parish advocates on how we overlook individual needs and how we're going to get to where we need to be.

In October I train the Buffalo Bureau of Jewish Education and am tentatively scheduled to do the same at Eastern Hills Wesleyan Church in Syracuse. I am thrilled to have the opportunity to advance the cause in places that embrace it before I walk in the door. All they are looking for is direction, advice, and a bit of knowledge. We're getting there, and this may very well be the fast track.