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.

  • Hi Jeremy,
    Once again, current analysis shows that only 25 percent of mass shooters have been diagnosed with mental illness. That's the reason I asserted that the news media are jumping on a...

  • Dan, we're searching for language to describe horrors that people commit, so I understand your desire to stick with the word "illness". I suggested several years ago that instead of trying to use...

  • Jeremy, I'd like to see the research backing your claim that "post-shooting virtually all are diagnosed (whether alive or living) with the kind of behavior and traits indicative of mental illness...

  • Jenny, your question is excellent. I have two ways to post to the Network, and when I wrote that reply, I should have posted as "Mark Stephenson". The comment was not the work of a team, but mine...

  • Jeremy and Dan, thanks for your comments. I couldn't agree more that "mass shooters are not in a healthy frame of mind." However, society has given us a particular understanding of "mental illness...

  • Michele, thanks for your comment. Yes, David writes from within an American context, but we're hoping much of his advice will apply in Canadian contexts too. And Mental Health First Aid, QPR, and...

  • Greg and Willemiena, Yes! Sometimes when I've spoken to groups, I challenge the common use of the word "normal", as a contrast to "disability" or "mental illness." I like to quote Whoopi Goldberg...

  • Ken, I thank God that you have come to be at peace with the journey that has been set before you. Not only that, I'm hearing you say that the distress that has come your way has deepened your...

  • Hi Harold, I have appreciated all your work in disability advocacy over the years. It's hard work and slow-going. I hear your frustration. People can quickly grasp why an elevator or ramp may be...

  • Joe, yes, this pastor's communication shows a wonderful sensitivity to this man, and shows a desire to teach the congregation how better to understand and interact with him both with the...