Special needs and disability conferences are popping up around the country. They provide a wealth of information by bringing in workshop speakers from around the country and inviting local agencies to host exhibit tables. Conferences also create networking opportunities for parents, church leaders, disability and special needs ministry agencies, and authors in attendance.

This spring I presented workshops at three special needs and disability conferences and met fascinating people who shared their expertise and stories generously. I hope this peek at each one inspires you to find a conference near you to attend soon!

Engage Conference

The Engage Conference is held in early spring and hosted by 99 Balloons of Fayetteville, Arkansas. Engage is a 1 day conference, which features morning worship, a variety of workshop sessions and panel discussions during the day, lunch, exhibitors, and a special evening speaker–this year Heather Avis.


To my chagrin, I forgot to take pictures of the conference, though I remembered to photograph the boom truck outside the hotel and the de-icing truck at the airport. (My grandsons are really into trucks.)



Better than photos is the the All Access Pass to the Engage Conference digital recordings (some audio, some with audio and video) which can be purchased for $9.99. You can learn more about the All Access Pass here.

That All May Worship Conference

This special needs and disability conference is held in the Norfolk, Virginia area in the spring of odd numbered years in mid-March. It’s hosted by the Faith Inclusion Network (FIN) of Hampton Roads. This event gathers inclusive ministry leaders from around the country for a Thursday retreat day where they share resources, emerging issues, and dreams. The conference is held on Friday. Pictures of the retreat day and the conference can be found at the FIN That All May Worship Facebook page. An exciting feature of this conference is its emphasis on doing ministry with people who have disabilities rather than doing ministry for them.

My camera came out a time or 2 to take pictures of a morning walk with my friend Shelly Christensen, the founder of the Jewish Disability Awareness Day and of the ocean outside the retreat center. The conference day was so busy I again forgot to snap photos. But other people did, so visit the FIN That All May Workshop Facebook page to get a feel for the day.

Inclusion Fusion Live!

Inclusion Fusion Live! was put on by Key Ministry and hosted by Bay Presbyterian Church near Cleveland, Ohio. Inclusion Fusion Live! addresses the disability and special needs community, with an emphasis on mental health. The conference runs for 2 days in early April and is packed with workshops, day-long intensive trainings, Quick Takes (think TED talk), keynotes, interviews, and more. Videos of all the main stage events can be accessed on the Inclusion Fusion Live! page of the Key Ministry website, including my Quick Take about Sharing Love Abundantly in Special Needs Families: The 5 Love Languages® for Parents Raising Children with Disabilities.

The adage “third time’s the charm” held true at the final special needs and disability conference I attended this spring. I snagged a number of photos, including the one above with Different Dream guest blogger Evana Sandusky and the one below with Sarah Broady of Hope In Autism, Beth Castile of Valley Church in West Des Moines, and Colleen Swindoll-Thompson of Reframing Ministries.

May the resources available through these special needs and disability conferences encourage you to find and attend a conference soon. Who knows, maybe we’ll see each other there, and you can kindly remind me to take more pictures!

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