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Speaker is advocate for people with disabilities

The Bethlehem Lutheran Church Women will host their annual Salad Supper at 6:30 p.m. Sept. 3 in the church fellowship hall.

This year’s speaker is Laura Lee Wright, ministry consultant with Bethesda Lutheran Communities. Wright helps local churches to establish programming for those who have disabilities. Having a disability herself, Wright has been an advocate for disability concerns throughout her years in higher education and various church congregations.

The mission of Bethesda Lutheran Communities is “to enhance the lives of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities through the service that shares the good news of Jesus Christ.”

Wright has been a pioneer all of her life. Born with cerebral palsy, she was one of the first children in her town to be fully included in classrooms. While still in high school, she already demonstrated skills in both faith and leadership as a founding member of “Faith In Action” and senior class president at Sheboygan Lutheran High School.

During her college years, Wright was able to advocate for disability concerns while on campus at University of Wisconsin-Whitewater and help educate the community at large on issues concerning disability. After college, she worked for organizations who were in the early stages of learning to support people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Her travels over the years have taken her throughout Europe and residency in London, all the while teaching about faith and disability.

Wright was on staff at Northland Church, a congregation of 12,000 people in central Florida, as their access minister. In this role, she developed a thriving disability ministry reaching out to individuals and their families living with disability. She holds a core value of believing we were all were made for a purpose and have work to do in the expansion of the kingdom, and that includes people with disabilities.

Recently, her work has included a move to Naperville and Bethesda Lutheran Communities.

Wright holds a degree in social work from UW-Whitewater, a master’s in organizational leadership from Palm Beach Atlantic, and is working on a Ph.D. in leadership. She considers her profession as fun, but when not working she spends time with family, friends and her dog, Abbey.

Founded in 1904, Bethesda Lutheran Communities is a human service organization serving people with intellectual and developmental disabilities through faith-based programs. Bethesda, a 501(c)3 nonprofit, has been providing support and services for more than 2,000 people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families in 13 states. That service area will be increased with newly purchased homes in Minnesota.

The organization is headquartered in Watertown, Wis. There are several Bethesda CILA (Community Integrated Living Arrangement) homes in the DeKalb, Sycamore and Cortland area.

There is no charge for this event. The meal is a salad potluck and guests are asked to bring a dish to share (one dish per 3 to 4 guests). The supper is a women’s event, however, men are welcome to attend the presentation, which will follow at approximately 7:30 p.m. To help in planning, guests are asked to contact the church office by 1 p.m. Aug. 31 to indicate their attendance. Call 815-758-3203, or email office@bethlehemdekalb.org.

Bethlehem is located at 1915 N. First St. in DeKalb. Sunday worship takes place at 9:30 a.m., with communion open to all every week.

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