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Breakout Sessions 1

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.

Ministering to Neurodiverse Marriages

Led by: Dr. Stephanie & Dan Holmes

NeuroDiverse Marriage: What neurodiverse couples want ministers to know about autism in marriage and family based on Dr. Holmes' published research

Empowering Children with Special Needs to Find Their Purpose


Led by: Ron Sandison

Learn practical ways to empower children with autism to develop gifts, handle sensory issues, decode behavior issues, and learn self-efficacy. Sandison gives insight into activities to encourage socializing and to broaden interests. Additionally, Ron shares his journey with autism and the wisdom he gained from writing four books.

A Community Conversation on Accessible, Inclusive Worship: What are you and others doing?

Led by: Rev. Bill Gaventa

Come for an engaging and interactive conversation about accessible and inclusive worship. What does it mean for worship to be truly accessible? What are creative ways of designing and adapting worship to broaden and deepen participation by everyone? Share your insights and experiences at this unique “community conversation” event. Ideas and notes will become part of a resource guide developed through a grant to the Disability Ministry Network by the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship.

Volunteers: The Lifeblood of Your Ministry!


Led by: Stephen “Doc” Hunsley, M.D.

Volunteers are the lifeblood of every ministry - especially special needs! Volunteer recruitment is always one of the biggest concerns for any ministry leader, no matter what size your ministry is. In this workshop, you will learn how to recruit, retain, and train your volunteers to last for the long haul in any sized church!

Don't Assume

Led by: Becky Davidson

Church leaders often assume to know what special-needs families want and need and launch programs in an attempt to reach families, but they end up missing the mark. Becky Davidson will share ideas and tips from what she has learned as a special-needs mom and ministry leader to help your church create and develop the most impactful support models for the families you serve.

The Power of

the Support System

Led by: Taylor Duncan

This presentation focuses on the importance of developing valuable networking connections and promoting inclusion throughout and beyond the church setting. This presentation further emphasizes the benefits of supportive teamwork and communication in ways that are inclusive and help to support each individual in your minsitry.

Strengthening & Supporting Marriages

Led by: Rachael Chisholm

Learn the negative cycle that threatens marriages and how that cycle is intensified by having one or more children with a disability.  This session will give you tools for combatting the beliefs and behaviors that lead to this negative marriage cycle as well as strategies for helping your spouse to feel loved, valued, secure, respected, and connected.  Finally, receive practical tips on how the church can support and aid the marriages within their church body.


Your Ministry

Led by: Beth Golik

It’s time to promote! You’ve done your research. You have a ministry plan. The calming lights are installed, the sensory-friendly seating has been ordered, and the visual schedules are posted.  Then you wait. You know people will come. But how will they know? This workshop will walk through various ways to promote both within the walls of your church and to the disability community.

Behavior Strategies:

Next Level


Led by: Stephen Culver & Kent Wright

This course will provide practical examples of how to effectively de-escalate individuals who might display challenging behaviors during your services, sessions, or classes. Let's go on a journey of digging deeper to identify why these behaviors might be occurring so that we ensure all individuals have the opportunity to participate in what we have to offer!

The 411 on

Special Needs Dads

Led by: Stephen Chatham

This breakout will look inside the mind and heart of a special needs dad. You'll discover three important things these dads want and need from churches and/or parachurch ministries.

Inclusion in

Youth Ministry

Led by: Ken Chatham, Wes Lutes, & Jillian Palmiotto

The adolescent stage of life presents a unique set of social and emotional circumstances. Kids are awkward, they are trying to discover their identity, and they have difficulty socializing in our technology-driven society. This presentation will help you learn ways to navigate disability inclusion in youth ministry and understand how youth pastors and special needs ministry volunteers can collaborate to provide an inclusive worship experience and opportunities for teens with disabilities to have a leadership role in youth ministry. 

Simple Tools that Make a Difference - Part 1


Led by: Pat and Ben Satterfield

When a faith community determines to be welcoming to families who experience disability, it is helpful to have some simple tools at the ready, some purchased and some created as well as an online tool to quickly create materials that are needed. In this two-part session, you will learn why and how to use specific tools. In the next make-and-take session, you will have an opportunity to make a tool to add to your ministry toolbox.   

Beyond Sunday: Weekday Programming for

Adults with Disabilities

Led by: Jill Hartsfield

Many adults with disabilities struggle to find purpose, connection, and belonging after they age out of their local school system. Monday-Friday, our churches often have space that can be utilized to welcome adults with disabilities to engage with one another, continue to learn and build skills, and be spiritually fed. What a BIG opportunity we have, as the church, to come alongside these families and meet a growing need for quality weekday programs within each of our communities. Maybe you have a thriving disability ministry for adults on Sundays and are looking to take it to the next level, or maybe you’re brainstorming new forms of outreach to reach this population within your community. Let’s dream together about what this could look like for your church in your community!

Keeping Ministry

Safe for Everyone


Led by: Samantha & David Jones

In Keeping Ministry Safe for Everyone, we unpack the risk management process. This process is a proactive approach to safety in an Inclusive Ministry. This interactive workshop includes nine practical ways to manage the most common inclusion ministry risks because safety doesn't happen by accident.

Planning Events for

the Disability Community

Led by: Stephen & Tina Taylor

A key strategy to growing your community is to have amazing events for the disability community. Come learn about various events to host that will draw families and individuals to your faith community. One of the events you will hear about is Dream Big Dance, which is a prom-like dance for adults with disabilities. A series of events will have your ministry growing at a healthy pace, but more importantly, events will help you gain recognition in the community.

"Inclusion is intentional. It is about identifying and removing barriers so that everyone can participate to the best of their ability."

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