Special needs inclusion ministry conferences abound every spring, and for the past few months I’ve attended several of them–The Engage Conference hosted by 99 Balloons in Fayetteville, Arkansas; the That All May Worship Conference hosted by the Faith Inclusion Network (FIN) in the Norfolk, Virginia area; and The Accessibility Summit hosted by McLean Bible Church near Washington, DC.
Besides providing an opportunity to spend time with parents of kids with special needs and to meet online colleagues like Sandra in person, these conferences are a wonderful place to learn about special needs ministry resources. I’d like to share 3 resources, all completely free, that can help you and your church start a new special needs inclusion ministry or beef up what’s already available.
Special Needs Inclusion Ministry Resource #1: Key Ministry’s Special Needs Parenting Blog
This blog features posts from parents of kids with special needs from all over North America. Moms and dads raising children and caring for young adult children with special needs share their struggles and joys with transparency and faith. The diversity of special needs they represent make this a blog easily relatable for parents. New posts go up almost every weekday, so check it out at Key Ministry’s Special Needs Parenting Blog.
Special Needs Inclusion Ministry Resource #2: Faith Inclusion Network (FIN) Panel Discussions
The morning sessions at the That All May Worship Conference featured 3 panel discussions with special needs ministry leaders from the United States and Canada. The 3 discussions were video recorded and are available on YouTube.
The first panel addressed beginning efforts in special needs ministry inclusion. Panel members were Milton Tyree (Univeristy of Kentucky and Presbyterians for Disability Concerns), Shelly Christensen (Inclusion Innovations), Laureen Lynch-Ryan (Archdiocese of Washington DC, Deaf Ministry Coordinator), Barbara Newman (CLC Network founder and author), and Carrie Price (Grace Bible Church, Virginia Beach, VA Disability Ministry Director)
The second panel discussed pathways that support individuals and families affected by disability. Panel members were Jolene Philo (author), David Morstad (former head of Bethesda Institute), Lorna Bradley (Hope and Healing Center in Texas), Neil Cudney (Christian Horizons in Ontario, Canada), and Angela West (Partnership for People with Disabilities)
The third panel considered new paths to explore as disability inclusion efforts in faith communities mature. Participants were Dr. Jeff McNair (California Baptist University, and Director of Public Policy for Joni and Friends Ministry), Bill Gaventa (Director of the Summer Institute on Theology and Disability), and Anne Masters (Director of Pastoral Ministry of Persons with Disabilities of the Archdiocese of Trenton, New Jersey)
Special Needs Inclusion Ministry Resource #3: CLC Network Worship Resources
Barb Newman of the Christian Learning Center (CLC) Network and the Calvin College Institute of Christian Worship recently teamed up to create resources churches can use to promote inclusive worship in their congregations. At Worship as One: Disability in Community, you will find an introductory worship video and a downloadable video PDF guide.
Other Special Needs Inclusion Ministry Resources
Want to give a shout out to other special needs ministry resources? Share them in the comment box. Thanks!
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