The Faith Inclusion Network Is a Special Needs Gift

Faith Inclusion Network

Last week I received a most amazing gift.
But I wasn’t the only person to receive it.
Karen Jackson, leader of the Faith Inclusion Network, gave this most amazing gift to around 20 people gathered together in a beach house.

The gift included this beautiful sunrise, which led Shelly Christensen, Lorna Bradley, and I to worship our Creator on a brisk morning.
But the sunrise was only a small portion of our gift.
The true gift was a Thursday spent with disability and special needs leaders from around the country.
Not just to speak at a conference…that came on Friday.
But not until we spent all of Thursday brainstorming and dreaming about how to encourage inclusion in faith communities.

My heart was so encouraged to sit with this group of people,
to look around the room and see their passion about
finding employment for adults with disabilities,
welcoming people with special needs into our churches and into our lives,
by doing ministry with them instead of for or to them.

Were your ears ringing when we talked about you, the caregivers?
When we discussed how to support parents of kids with special needs?
When we talked about the need for higher wages for those we pay to care for our loved ones?
Were your ears ringing?
Were your hearts pounding like mine was?

I wish you could have been there,
could have seen their compassion,
could have felt our excitement,
could have met these dear people
and come to count them as friends, as I do.

Faith Inclusion Network panelEventually, I’ll post links to the TED talks and more about each speaker.
But for now, this silly selfie,
compliments of Dr. Jeff McNair,
when we were all lined up for a panel discussion
at the end of the Friday conference.


Top row: Jeff McNair, Stephanie Hubach, Lorna Bradley, Bill Gaventa, Anne Masters, Milton Tyree
Bottom row: Dave Morstad’s forehead, Jolene Philo, Erik Carter, Shelly Christensen, Mohammed Yousuf, Dan Vander Plaats

Not pictured: Jan Benton, Barb Newman, Karen Jackson

Were You at the Faith Inclusion Network (FIN) Conference?

If you were at the FIN conference, what was your favorite part? What did you learn? Who did you meet? Leave your comments in the box below!

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Meet Jolene

Jolene Philo is a published author, speaker, wife, and mother of a son with special needs.



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