Crosswinds Community Church CRC member, Mark Stephenson has worked since 2006 to break down barriers for church members with disabilities. As the director of Disability Concerns CRC (DC), he has coordinated volunteers in addition to individual church efforts to overcome attitude and architectural obstacles.
“Disability Concerns helps churches keep moving toward becoming communities where everybody belongs and everybody serves,” says Director Mark Stephenson.
Now, in recognition for his efforts, the Bethesda Lutheran Communities Directors have nominated him for this year’s Christian Service Award. The annual award distinguishes those who are dedicated to serving and helping the spiritual lives of those with disabilities.
“Although my name is on this letter, it is recognition of the work of a large number of people who have been involved with Disability Concerns over the years,” said Stephenson.
Stephenson credits his reception of the award to the work and assistance of the network of supporting organizations like the Reformed Church in America (RCA), and the DC AC along with his staff, volunteers, committee members, his supportive wife, Bev and their daughter Nicole.
“While in Seminary, during my senior year, we had had our first child, Nicole, who was born prematurely with multiple disabilities,” said Stephenson. “She taught my wife and I about living joyfully through disabilities.”
After the birth of Nicole, Stephenson served as a pastor at two Christian Reformed churches for 17 years, then took the call to serve as director of Disability Concerns. He said. "God used Nicole to lead me and my wife to the callings we have today. I'm serving in Disability Concerns, and my wife, who was a German teacher, is now teaching special education."
“We are really about people’s heart’s changing. DC is not just about impairments, but about a response as a whole society. We act as fellow servants of God, we are working together.”
Stephenson will be officially presented the award at Bethseda’s Wisconsin Leadership Banquet September 10.
“One final comment about that,” Stephenson wrote to staff members about his award, “which my wife Bev noted on her Facebook page, 'Somehow it seems appropriate that this award was established in 1987. That's the year Nicole was born. She started us on an amazing journey.'"