Guide
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.

Interests: 
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Hiring People with Disabilities Makes Cents and Sense

An article I read about churches hiring people with disabilities contained helpful information but their approach emphasized that hiring anyone with a disability is fraught with "landmines." Ouch!

Church Admin & FinanceDisability Concerns
Blog
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Something We Can Do About Rampage Killings

Every time a rampage killing happens, like the recent horror in Las Vegas, people ask “Why?” For an answer, we need to look at ourselves and the kind of society we have created.

Disability Concerns
Blog
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An Honor, Not a Job

Children both amaze and inspire me to be a better person. As I see Christ in them, I know God has placed them in my ministry not only to learn as students, but to teach as well.

Disability Concerns
Blog
521 views
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Celebrating Beautiful Things

Ruth, who has longed to dance all her life, finally accepted his offer and told him she would be hanging on to him for dear life.

Disability Concerns
Blog
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A Spoiled Brat Gets His Way and Dies

Okay, so I’m late to the game. I finally read Me Before You by JoJo Moyes, and I still haven’t seen the movie. Though late, I still feel compelled to comment.

Disability Concerns
Blog
468 views
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The Trials of Charlie Gard

As we held Dylan, we saw his face fully for the first time as he took his final breath. Our private drama has been repeated in hospitals around the world. So why has Charlie’s case caught the attention of the world?

Disability Concerns
Blog
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Disaster Response Team Includes People of All Abilities

Hosting a trip that included volunteers with physical challenges and developmental disabilities was fairly unusual for World Renew, but it was worth the effort, said Art Opperwall, program manager for World Renew DRS.

Disability Concerns
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Just Lower the Branches: A Response to Autism

A couple girls saw Thayer’s dilemma and pointed out to him a few other apples hanging closer. “Get this one, Thayer. It’s a beauty!” But Thayer would not be swayed from his chosen apple.

Disability Concerns
Blog
1215 views
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Clergy Mental Health

"You need to do something about this,” the pastor pleaded. He urged, “I won’t tell you the details, but you need to do something to address the mental health challenges pastors face.”

Disability ConcernsPastors
Blog
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‘I Like it When…’

When you talk to me before you touch me or my wheelchair, I feel less scared. Sometimes I get shoved around without even knowing where I am being pushed. I like some surprises, but mostly on my birthday.

Disability Concerns
  • Diane, this sounds like a deeply meaningful worship service. Thank you for sharing it here. 

  • Joyce, thanks for sharing additional resources. 

    Diane, what a loving service your congregation does for hurting people in your congregation and community. Because you do this every year,...

  • I'm not enough of an anthropologist to know if individualism is stronger in the US than Canada, but other Canadian friends have told me the same, so I'm inclined to believe you. One Canadian...

  • For example, a CNN article quotes Sue Klebold, mother of a rampage killer, "I wish I had known then what I know now: that it was possible for everything to seem fine with him when it was not, and...

  • That's a good point, Doug. Social isolation is bad for one's health, in general, and Junger makes that point eloquently. Your point raises a clarification I should add. When mass shootings happen...

  • Michele, yes, with regard to suicide, a gracious Christian community can be a powerful healing presence. I appreciate the article you sent me via email: Striking differences in rates of suicide...

  • Michele, yes, getting help is so important. It's a huge step, and I would guess for many people it feels like failure. Of course, as you well know, getting help is a step back toward health. I...

  • Gary, yes, not just triangles within our families, but within the communities of our churches. In answer to your question, I hope and pray that this will be the case, not only for pastors but for...

  • Kelly, thanks so much for sharing about your own journey. Blessings in your resumption of ministry work!

  • Guilt, what, really? CRC people?!