On the last Saturday in March, church leaders, Sunday school teachers, children’s ministry leaders, and people affected by disability gathered in three locations for the ONE conference, an event for people with disabilities, their family members, and staff and volunteer leaders who profess ONE God, ONE Hope, ONE Body. The event was sponsored by the Disability Concerns ministry of the Christian Reformed Church and the Reformed Church in America.
Keynote speeches and a live question and answer session were held in Temecula, Calif., and streamed to sites in Glendale, Ariz., and Ripon, Calif. Each location also had local speakers and workshops.
Keynote speaker Emily Colson, author of Dancing with Max, talked about her experiences with her 24-year-old son who has autism. Every unique member of the body brings gifts and belongs to one another, she said.
Rev. Mark Stephenson, director of Disability Concerns, attended the conference at the Ripon site. “God touched many people, and I heard many comments on how this helped them to see the mission of their church in a new light,” he said. “Most of all, thanks be to God who allows all of us, broken people that we are, to belong to his family and participate in his work.” He expressed disappointment that although organizers had made arrangements for translation into Spanish and Korean, none was needed at any of the sites.
One of the workshop presenters was Steve Nyenhuis, a Disability Ministry leader of Anaheim CRC who also serves on the Advisory Committee for Disability Concerns. “It was a blessing to meet people at the conference, some already deeply involved in disability ministry and others just beginning and wondering where God is leading them,” he said. “Let's pray that those seeds will grow and become thriving ministries reaching out and welcoming people with disabilities into the body of Christ.”