Mennonite Healthcare FellowshipBlog article
David Gullman, VA, serves as a co-pastor in the rural Mennonite church of Timberville, Virginia, as well as the pastor at Pleasant View, Inc., an agency that serves individuals with disabilities in Harrisonburg and Rockingham County, Virginia. For the past 14 years, he has worked directly with persons with disabilities, a passion that he discovered early in his life and a call the he has answered ever since.
Growing up the child of parents involved in the missionary field, David spent the first 19 years of his life in Ethiopia. It was there that David interacted with a fellow missionary child with Down Syndrome and observed the effects of a disabling brain tumor that ultimately claimed the life of his brother. Amid his time in Ethiopia and the time since, these two individuals have remained as poignant memories and have provided continual motivation in a life focused on serving persons with disabilities.
Since returning to the U.S., Dave and his wife Debbie have focused their lives on being the parents of two children, John and Hannah. Hannah has Down syndrome and has opened for Dave many further windows on the world of persons with disabilities, including his work at Pleasant View.
Dave will lead in a workshop on Monday entitled, “A Little One Shall Lead Them: Reimagining Leadership on the Journey Toward Health.” He will share out of his belief that “as we embrace the journey toward God’s Shalom, we discover that it is the little ones, the powerless ones, the foolish ones, the vulnerable ones who will show us the way.” He will go on to recognize some of the implications of this vision of leadership for the church and society as we know it today.
The theme of David’s plenary presentation at the closing session of MHF’s Annual Gathering 2015 is “Discovering Healthy Communities through the Broken Body.” Considering society’s fixation on the “perfect” body and mind, David works against the grain in surrounding himself with people whose bodies are broken and whose minds often fall short of societal standards. In a world that recedes from disability, David draws strength and encouragement from the resilience, forgiveness, and loving nature of the individuals he works with.
There is a marked similarity between Christ’s broken body on the cross and the individuals that David works with. He advocates that individuals with “broken bodies” have much to teach us as a community and are integral in defining the community of faith. To foster a healthy community, David believes that integration and not exclusion of community members and their disabilities is paramount.
In the retelling of stories, David will share his experiences and explain how the gifts of those often labeled “disabled” are unique and indispensable contributions to the community of Christ.