With recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention studies estimating that 17 percent of children ages 3-17 in the United States have at least one developmental disability, the importance of churches focusing more of their attention and resources on disability ministry is evident. In response to the growing need for Korean American churches to better serve families experiencing developmental disabilities with their children, All Nations Church in Lake View Terrace, Calif., hosted the 2023 Korean-Church Disability Conference on October 20-21.
All Nations Church, a Korean congregation of the Christian Reformed Church's Greater Los Angeles classis, partnered with AM1190, a local radio station of the Korean American Gospel Broadcasting network, to plan, co-sponsor and host the event.
Exploring the topic of "Equipping the Next-Gen of Leaders in Disability Ministry," organizers said this is the first conference of its kind in the Korean American Christian community. The theme of the conference was "Made to Belong."
Approximately 270 people from over 50 different churches and organizations attended over the two days. Participants came from as near as Washington state, and as far as Colorado, Georgia, Virginia and New York.
Main speakers included Kay Warren, founder with her husband, Rick, of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., whose ministry focuses on mental health and suicide prevention; Erik Carter, executive director of the Baylor University Center on Developmental Disabilities; and Christina Kimm, professor in the Division of Special Education and Counseling at California State University, Los Angeles. Another ten leaders in disability ministry from Korean American churches participated.
The purpose of the conference was to examine the current state of disability ministry and to explore how to educate and empower the next generation of leaders in disability ministry in Korean American churches. The success of this conference shows that Korean churches are becoming more aware of the need to focus on disability ministry for their churches to truly be places where everyone is welcomed to join the body of Christ.
"Our CRCNA Disability Concerns has been a very helpful resource for me in my ministry," said Sean Lee, evangelist in charge of All Nation Church's disability ministry, and a speaker at the conference. He said Lindsay Capel, content manager for disability concerns within Thrive, “has been very supportive of our church ministry and also in the planning of this conference.”
"Through this conference I believe we took a big step forward in ensuring that our churches will continue to be places where individuals and families with disabilities are welcomed and embraced as part of the body of Christ,” Lee said.
He also noted, “It is the hope that this conference will be an annual event and hosted by another church next year.”
About the Author
Jonathan Kim is a CRC pastor of Ye-Eun Presbyterian Church in Los Angeles, California. He writes news for The Banner and lives in North Hills, California.