Disability and the Church
Birmingham, Ala. is fortunate to have available many professional services and resources for families with members that have special needs. Public schools in the area offer quality special education classroom experiences for these children and youth. Several non-profit organizations in the area offer services and resources related to autism; hearing, speech, and visual impairments; physical disabilities; and mental challenges. A growing number of congregations in the area have responded to the need for ministries and services for these persons and their families.
The Center for Congregational Resources at Samford University will offer a conference for churches interested in beginning or expanding ministries to special needs persons and families. The one-day conference will be held on January 8, 2019. Participating in conference leadership will be faculty from Samford’s Center for Worship and the Arts, Orlean Beeson School of Education, Center for Faith and Health, and School of Public Health. In addition, Dr Barbara Newman, from the Calvin Institute for Worship and author of Making Worship Accessible, David Glover, founder of Pure Ministries and author of A Better Way: Where Least is Most, and Amy Fenton Lee, special needs ministry consultant and author of Leading a Special Needs Ministrywill be keynote presenters.
The conference will begin at 8:30 a.m. and will conclude at 5:00 p.m. Breakout sessions will be offered following the morning presentation by Barbara Newman and the afternoon presentation by David Glover. The day will conclude with a question-answer conversation with a panel of conference presenters and Samford faculty. “Samford University is in a unique position to help churches wanting to minister to special needs families,” said Michael Wilson, Director of the Center for Congregational Resources. “We hope the conference will give participants practical ideas and useful resources as they think about the ministries they hope to offer.”
One goal event organizers have is to help groups of churches learn how to begin or develop special needs ministries. To this end, the Center for Congregational Resources will provide financial assistance and consultative support. A proven model used by the Center gathers groups of three to five churches that choose to work together to learn from each other as they develop their ministries. The Center will make available a limited number of financial grants to congregations participating in groups.
Cost of the conference is $40 and includes break refreshments, lunch, and a book by one of the conference presenters. Register by December 11, 2018 to receive a $10 early bird discount. Group discounts are also available. For more information, visit the Center for Congregational Resources at www.samford.edu/congregational-resources or call 205-726-4064. Online registration is at: www.eve.samford.edu. †