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Breakout Sessions 4

Take your time reading about each session and so you can customize your conference experience! You will be able to choose one (1) session from this group.

Starting a Special Needs Ministry

Led by: Ryan Wolfe


There is a big difference between cooking from scratch and using a store-bought packaged recipe. Nothing beats homemade from-scratch cooking. Disability Ministry is no different! It is not a cookie-cutter ministry. Each ministry is unique based on community and congregation makeup. Come to this session and learn how to build your Disability Ministry from scratch.

Inclusion for Special Events

Led by: Ken Chatham & Emily Saum


In this session, Pastor Ken Chatham and Hailey Polson will discuss their experience working together to create inclusive events for everyone, including men's bible studies, women's events, children and youth camps and retreats, VBS, Easter celebrations and Christmas events. Create special events where everyone belongs by simply adding needed accommodations as you plan your events.   

Including Kids on the

High End of the Spectrum

Led by: Catherine Boyle


Research suggests that nearly 60% of children and teens with autism spectrum disorders are of normal or high intelligence and may not be served well by "special needs" ministry designed for individuals with intellectual disability. Common mental health concerns are often the cause of much of their social limitations. This workshop will help participants develop a strategy for including kids on the high end of the spectrum, by combining mental health ministry ideas with traditional approaches for serving youth with autism. For churches with established disability ministries, this workshop will serve as a first step to expanding support for children and teens with significant mental health conditions and their families.

Putting Faith to Work

Led by: John Felageller 


Churches can be great places of employment for people with disabilities. In this presentation, John looks at the different approaches and strategies involved in finding a meaningful job placement for your special needs adult and working with church leadership to help craft and shape the position. John will share his experience as a customized employment specialist to describe a comprehensive job placement approach, the strategies involved, and how it differs from other philosophies. John will provide examples from his own work experience and demonstrate how having the right perspectives and attitudes about your young adult finding work matters as much as the actual job placement. This can be a great outreach to your community and ministry to parents as you help them navigate the transition to adulthood. 

Supporting Parents

of Special Needs Children (FULL)

Led by: Elizabeth Newman


In this session, Elizabeth will lead a discussion of the unique challenges, emotions, and concerns facing parents of special needs children. Understanding the parent’s perspective leads to a greater ability to support the entire family in a meaningful way. Attendees will learn was they can begin to support the needs of the parent as they navigate the special needs journey, which can look very different from raising a neurotypical child. 

Building a Leadership Team

Led by: Jillian Palmiotto


Whether you are a children's pastor, youth pastor, young adult pastor, or senior pastor, you need a leadership team for your special needs ministry. You don't have to try to figure out how to include people with special needs and disabilities all alone. Recruit a volunteer team for that! In this session, you will learn what type of person you are looking for, where to find the people, how to delegate responsibilities, and how to pour into the team to protect them from burnout. 

Creating Spaces of Belonging

Led by: Abigail Burle 


With diagnoses such as autism, ADHD, mental illness, and language and social delays on the rise, places such as schools and faith communities now need to find places of belonging more than ever. What better place to find a place to belong than a faith community where we can introduce the idea that people first need to belong to Jesus regardless of their diagnosis? Abigail will share ideas on providing physical rest, financial support, education, and community groups to families impacted by disability. 

Empowering Individuals with Autism for Life’s Transitions & Employment (FULL)

Led by: Ron Sandison


Currently, in the U.S. 80% of people on the spectrum are unemployed or underemployed only 3% are gainfully employed. Professionals and parents will learn the eight keys to empowering individuals with autism for life’s transitions and equipping them with skills for a career.  Sandison teaches practical ways to transform special interests into employment opportunities. Developing skills for employment and understanding the workplace culture and norms. Ron also shares his own struggles with employment and how he was able to obtain gainful employment, and the knowledge he acquired from interviewing over fifty young adults on the spectrum and professionals in the autism community while writing his fourth book, Autism, Growth & Transitioning into Adulthood.

Doing Ministry with Kids

(or Colleagues) with ADHD (FULL)

Led by: Dr. Steve Grecivich


ADHD is the most common mental health disorder among school age children in the U.S. and most children with ADHD continue to experience residual symptoms into adulthood. In this workshop designed for persons in ministry with ADHD or serving alongside colleagues with signs of ADHD, Dr. Grcevich will describe the executive functioning deficits associated with the disorder, connect them with the daily struggles that result, and address how these deficits manifest in persons with intellectual or developmental disabilities. Strategies will be presented for ministry leaders looking to compensate for their own ADHD and suggestions for supporting colleagues with the condition. Ideas for including families impacted by ADHD at church and addressing spiritual challenges often associated with the condition will be introduced. 

Bringing the Gospel to the Deaf Community

Led by: Mary Tatum


Most members of the deaf community do not consider themselves as having "special needs" or being "disabled". However, they do require accommodations to have access to our faith communities and the gospel of Jesus Christ. Mary Tatum will share the journey of Southeast Christian Church and how they have learned to accommodate for the deaf community to let them know they are welcomed into their church family. This session will help you understand the unique characteristics of the deaf community culture and ways you can accommodate bible study groups or Sunday services to include them in your current programming.  

Opening Our Eyes to Invisible Disabilities


Led by: Katie Matthews


People who have invisible disabilities such as ADHD, anxiety and attachment disorders, PTSD, or even ASD often don’t receive the same grace and kindness that is extended to those with visible disabilities, like Down Syndrome or physical disabilites. During this breakout, Katie will discuss her personal struggles experienced by herself and her son while living with invisible disabilities and how many of these struggles have been caused by the church body. We will discuss how the church can best love those who are affected by disabilities we cannot see and the need for more than just one model of disability ministry. We need more than a self-contained classroom because it is important to see all people as image bearers, not just those who fall into a certain level of care.  

Facility Tour

Led by: Jeff Jansma


Take a tour of Church on Main to help you have a vision for how to create an inclusive ministry. Tour their children's and youth space to discover ways to make your church more inviting to kids with special needs. You will also have an opportunity to see their sensory room and modified classroom.

Teaching the Bible to Children with Special Needs (FULL)

Led by: Ben & Pat Satterfield


Jesus was the Master Teacher, seeing and meeting the needs of those He taught – the large group as well as each individual.  In this session, we will discuss using teaching methods that work for all our diverse learners as well as providing options for those with unique needs.  Specific examples for including everyone will be shared and demonstrated.

Meet the Worship Team!



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