In February, Barb Newman is leading workshop at the Association of Presbyterian Church Educators Conference (APCE) called “God’s Amazing Spectrum.” Barb works to help participants gain a better understanding of the variety of abilities one may encounter within the church setting: ADHD, autism spectrum disorders, Alzheimer’s disease, hearing and vision differences, etc. The stories about people have piqued Barb's interest and supported the call God has placed on her life to be a resource to churches as they include persons with disabilities.
Barb has heard many heartbreaking stories over the years. People have told families with a person with a disability, "Sorry - try the church down the road, they might have something for you there" or "Your family can come, but not that child. We don't have anything for him here." Families with children who have disabilities hear these things more often than we can imagine.
But there are also the exciting stories. People tell her, "Guess what happened the day Bill made profession of faith. Everyone's life was changed watching that event." She also often hears, "I thought that I was being his friend to help him, but I have learned way more from him than he has learned from me"
In working with churches wanting to include persons with disabilities, Barb often gets asked for information. She is asked about specific disabilities and what sorts of things churches could try to help a person who has that disability. Because this is a real passion for Barb, she jumps at any chance she gets to serve as a resource for churches so they can be even more welcoming to persons with disabilities.
People who attend her workshop will leave with:
- A Biblical framework for better understanding persons with disabilities and the gifts they bring to the church.
- The understanding of several different disability areas and some general information about each one (ADHD, autism, Asperger syndrome, Alzheimers, intellectual disabilities, physical disabilities, hearing and vision differences, and more.)
- Multiple ideas and tools to try in a church setting.
This workshop is part of the APCE conference that will be held in Grand Rapids. The CRC is part of APCE so it is our conference too. Here are two other blog posts about workshops at this conference: