Guide

Mark Stephenson

About Me: 

Welcome to Disability Concerns. My name is Mark Stephenson. I’m here to help you find the best ways for your church to become an accessible, warm, hospitable, and loving place for people with disabilities. At Disability Concerns we like to say, “Everybody belongs. Everybody serves.” 

After receiving an M.Div. degree, I served as pastor of two Christian Reformed churches for a total of 17 years, and I have served as the Director of Disability Concerns for the Christian Reformed Church since July 2006. My wife Bev and I have four living children, including our oldest child, Nicole, who was born extremely prematurely in the late 1980’s and lives with severe, multiple impairments. That label does not define her. She loves magazines, loves interacting with people, loves roller-coasters and wild amusement park rides, and she loves to worship and to pray with God’s people. In any group, she shares her own unique gifts.

God used Nicole to lead me into a variety of involvements with people with disabilities and their families including these:

  • Chairing the board of Special Education Ministry of Holland (a Friendship group)
  • Serving with working groups for various ministries with people with disabilities
  • Directing the Disability Concerns ministry of my denomination.

I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to speak to groups across North America about church and inclusion, and welcome such opportunities. Likewise, I welcome this opportunity to assist you and your congregation. If you cannot find a resource that you would find helpful, or if I can assist you in some way, please be in touch.

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En la Intersección del Racismo y la Discapacidad

Mientras trabajamos por la justicia racial y el cambio sistémico, debemos mantener a los niños y adultos de color con discapacidades al frente de nuestras discusiones y acciones. El siguiente artículo adaptado analiza la interseccionalidad pasada por alto del racismo y el capacitismo. También tiene enlaces a otros recursos sugeridos.

HispanicRacial Reconciliation
  • Ken, I have a child who was enrolled in Special Education from age 3 through age 26, and she benefited greatly from the services she received throughout those years. Through the course of all that...

  • Jodi, thanks for this. Our church had been buying presents and distributing them to families for years. After reading When Helping Hurts, we decided that it would be more just and affirming for...

  • Hilda, thanks for your comment. Author and parent of a child with disabilities, Tom Reynolds, talks about the "cult of normalcy" in his book A Vulnerable Communion. If I understand him correctly,...

  • Dan, years ago, an African American friend, and fellow CRC member, told me that most Black, Indigenous, and People of Color do not post to the Network because of the "negative spirit" on the...

  • There's a lot of talk in this conversation and among many Christians across the internet which imply that if something "sounds" like something a critical race theorist would say, then it must be...

  • Bonnie, thanks for putting the reprehensible words of Rep. Yoho as well as the responses of Rep. Ocasio-Cortez and of Bread for the Word into a much broader context of the systemic sin which...

  • Once again, Dan, the term "white privilege" does not describe a theory, but a wide variety of practices in society that give us white people advantages over people of color. In banking, here's a...

  • Chris, thanks for this. The Christian Reformed Church's Office of Social Justice has a rich and deep library of justice prayers. Most of the prayers are written in response to specific situations...

  • Dan, another thought. The term "white privilege" does not refer to a theory but to a variety of ways in which our society provides advantages to people who are white compared to people of color....

  • Hi Dan, For me, here are three key actions:

    1. Listen. I keep listening to the voices of people of color, through personal relationships and by reading. I'm just finishing Prophetic Lament...