2019 Conference

Partial List of Presentations

2019 Conference

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Partial list of presentations:

Faith Development & Discipleship For All

This session will focus on a shared understanding of faith development and discipleship. Particular attention will be paid to the responsibilities of faith communities (disability ministries) in the spiritual formation of ALL congregants. The session will also examine the barriers many faith communities perceive in responding to these needs in congregants with disabilities, as well as how to remove these perceived barriers.

Michael Hoggatt, Ph.D.
Michael Hoggatt holds Masters degrees in Special Education and Public policy & Administration. He also holds a Ph.D. in Higher Education Policy with an emphasis in Disability Policy. His work has received various awards including Saddleback College's 2017 President's Award for Innovation and Leadership for his development of Saddleback College's OASIS program for Adults with Disabilities. His work on disability policy as well as the intersection of faith and disabilities has been published in various outlets including The Journal of the Christian Institute on Disability, The Community College Review, The Community College Journal of Research and Practice, PRISM Magazine, and Focus on the Family.

Dr. Hoggatt has worked at Saddleback College for 12 years. In addition to his role at Saddleback, he is a lecturer in Higher Education Policy for the Graduate School of Education at the University of California, Riverside. Additionally, he serves on the board of directors for Friendship Ministries, Inc., an international ministry whose purpose is to provide resources that support faith formation and congregational inclusion with individuals with intellectual disability.
In his free time, Mike enjoys spending time and travelling with his wife and children. Mike and his family live in Orange County, California.

The Who, What, Where and Why of Disability Ministry

Do you have a passion to start or revitalize a disability ministry but have no idea where to start? There are so many i’s to dot and t’s to cross. In this session we will review the logistics of running a disability ministry. This will include what policies and procedures need to be in place, how to ensure safety and security, what should be included on an intake form and other aspects that shouldn’t be overlooked. Running a healthy vibrant Disabilities Ministry brings glory to God in a most special way. Crossing those t’s and dotting those i’s will never look so fun.

Amy Kendall
Amy Kendall is the Disabilities Minister for over eleven years at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, CA. Before working at Saddleback, she worked for 10 years in the educational sector as a behavior specialist, specializing with children on the autism spectrum. Amy graduated from Pacific Christian College with her BA in Ministry and from Hope International University with her MA in Marriage, Family, Child Counseling. Amy also has a teenage son with multiple disabilities and believes that she is a better minister because she got the blessing to be his mom.

Healing in the Way of Jesus

The Gospels are filled with accounts of Jesus offering physical healing. But even as churches today seek to follow the way of Jesus, people with disabilities all too often experience the very opposite of healing and life-giving community: exclusion, judgment, barriers. Misinterpretation and misapplication of biblical healing narratives can do great damage, yet those who take the Bible as authoritative mustn't avoid these passages either. Christian communities are better off when people with disabilities are an integral part of our common life. In this session we will explore how the stories of Jesus' healings can guide us and undergird our practices of mutual thriving.

Bethany McKinney Fox, MDiv, PhD
Bethany McKinney Fox (PhD, Fuller Theological Seminary) runs the Access Services Office and is adjunct professor of Christian ethics at Fuller. Her new book Disability and the Way of Jesus: Holistic Healing in the Gospels and the Church (IVP Academic) examines how Jesus' healing in the Gospels, too often used in ways that wound people with disabilities, might point a way toward real healing and mutual thriving. Dr. Fox is founding pastor of Beloved Everybody Church, a church startup where people with and without intellectual disabilities lead and participate together.

Young Life Discipleship

Making Disciples of Friends with Special Needs - As our YL Capernaum clubs grow and thrive, we long to take the next steps with our Capernaum friends. How do we grow deeper with our Capernaum friends and disciple them with excellence? What might be some of the barriers or distractions that make this difficult? What are some tips and encouragements that would help you to become a disciple maker with your friends who have disabilities?

John & Nancy Pantellas
John and Nancy Pantellas have been serving in Young Life for 34+ years. For about 16 of those years they were volunteer leaders, and for 18+ years they have served on Young Life Staff. John currently serves as the Area Director and Capernaum Director for Santa Clarita Valley Young Life. Nancy serves on the Santa Clarita Valley Young Life Mission staff with her focus being on their Capernaum ministry. John and Nancy began their Capernaum ministry in SCV Young Life about 15 years ago, and it is their joy and their delight to watch it grow.

5 Stages - The Journey of Disability Attitudes

When referring to the church as Christ’s body, Paul said that we are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other. (Rom 12:5) In order to fully experience what Paul was saying, we need to explore our attitudes about people with disabilities. Do we view them as unable to contribute to the church or do we believe, like Paul, that all of us are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Eph 2:10) Are we satisfied with being friends, or do we encourage our friends with disabilities to discover their God given gifts so they can be co-laborers in the church? Join us as we talk about going from an attitude of ignorance to one of co-laboring.

Steve Nyenhuis
Steve Nyenhuis is the Disability Ministry Director at Anaheim Christian Reformed Church where he teaches an inclusive Sunday School class and also plans and helps to lead monthly worship services with adults with intellectual disabilities.  Steve is available to speak to churches on being inclusive with people with disabilities. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
He also helps lead the Southern California Disability Ministry Network. https://www.facebook.com/groups/1044659578883412/
Steve and his wife, Val, enjoy spending as much time as possible with their two daughters, son-in-law and two grandkids.

Radical Inclusion: No Age Limit on Belonging

Where do our friends go when children’s ministry and youth groups end? Using a strength-based, relational approach, Moriarty will suggest ways to build a framework for radical inclusion of all abilities and ages in your church body, so no one “falls off a cliff” at 16 or 22 or 65. You will leave with examples, tools, and ideas of how to simplify, remove barriers, and build the kingdom.

Focusing on people rather than programs, Moriarty will share motivating stories that stimulate you to cultivate passion, customize discipleship, and create places of belonging for individuals with and without disabilities. Drawing on research from her new book, Radical Inclusion, she challenges the church to take the lead in modeling risk, humility and kindness that bring heaven here and now.

Andrea Moriarty
Andrea Moriarty is the author of One-Track Mind: 15 Ways to Amplify Your Child’s Special Interest and Radical Inclusion: What I Learned About Risk, Humility, and Kindness from My Son with Autism as well as cofounder of Banding Together, a music therapy nonprofit. She speaks nationally and leads workshops where she shares unending hope, affectionate humor, and innovative resources with parents and educators.

Moriarty and her husband, Jim, are adoptive parents of grown twins. Allie is a board-certified music therapist and Reid is a singer songwriter, speaker, and host of Talk Time with Reid Moriarty. Moriarty lives in Solana Beach, California, where she accumulates books, cooks from scratch, and whistles while she works.

The Teen Years - Knowing and loving them and their families through social, emotional, physical, and spiritual changes.

We will be discussing how we can be a blessed support to our friends and their families as they navigate the teen years in some typical and non typical ways. We'll dive into the disabilities within the disability, the power of mentors, the ways they can serve the larger body, what's "appropriate" anyways, and God's view of them.

Robin Heffernan
Robin has had the joy of serving individuals with special needs for 40 years. She holds a teaching credential in Special Education and most of her experience has been with the hearing impaired along with students who have behavioral and emotional needs. For the past 10 years she has served with Young Life Capernaum, directing the ministry and coming alongside families to help communicate the Gospel in various ways. She loves sharing God's great plan of mutual sanctification for our friends who often need an extra voice to advocate for them, and how those who know and love them can become more like Christ because of how He created them.

It Makes Sense: Exploring the role our senses play in how we and those with special needs, perceive the world, connect with others and connect with God.

This session fosters a heightened awareness of the way we each perceive our world, and God through our senses. Sensory strategies will be presented to facilitate optimal engagement for individuals with special needs.

Jeannie Wronski, MA.,OTR/L
Jeannie is an Occupational Therapist who has worked with children who have special needs for over 35 years. After graduating with a master’s degree in Occupational Therapy from the University of Southern California, she went on to pursue her life’s calling–helping children with special needs. Thirty years ago, she began providing therapy for children and their families at the Intervention Center for Early Childhood. She also conducts In-services on a variety of topics including “Learning through Play” and “Insights on Sensory Processing.” She has served with Calvary Church Student Ministries as parent liaison , and as a speaker for a Girls High School retreat on “Becoming Unmasked.” Jeannie is passionate about walking the journey of growth with the children and families whom she serves. With an increased desire to assist in the spiritual aspect of journey, and a heightened awareness of God’s presence in our midst, she is a student at Loyola Marymount/Sisters of St Joseph of Orange, studying the Art of Spiritual Direction. Jeannie and her husband Mark live in Orange. She has two grown-up, out- of- the- box thinking sons, and one adorable grandson.

Changing the Structure to Change the Culture

This workshop will focus on how to make strategic, structural changes within your church to help foster and ignite a cultural shift toward belonging and inclusion.

Melissa Brosch
Melissa is the Associate Director of Marriage and Family Ministries at Calvary Church of Santa Ana. She started and oversees Calvary's Bridge Ministry, which provides inclusion and belonging for members at every age level. Melissa is also a professor at Saddleback College, teaching Independent Living Skills to adults with intellectual disabilities. She is a mom to 3 amazing girls and is passionate about helping the church become a place where each of them can experience belonging and community.

Adolescents and Adults with Disabilities

This workshop will focus upon providing a ministry specifically for adolescents and adults with disabilities. It will include within it, aspects such as programming, socialization and safety.

Jennifer Felix
Jennifer is the Pastor of Disabilities at Crossroads Church in Corona, Ca. She holds a Bachelor's in Christian Ministry, a Master's in Disability Studies, and is currently working on her Master of Divinity. Jennifer is passionate about creating a space for people with disabilities to thrive. Jennifer is also a widow of over 3 years. She loves her dogs, frequents Disneyland often, and enjoys traveling.

Let's Get It Started! Disability Ministry 101

Starting a special needs ministry doesn't have to be a daunting task. Attendees will come away with the 5 primary 'must haves' to ensure your special needs ministry is set-up for success. If you are a newly launched special needs ministry, but want to ensure you have a strong foundation, this workshop is also for you!

Linda Martin, MME, MT-BC
Linda Martin, MME, MT-BC, is a certified neurologic music therapist specializing in behavior management and children with autism spectrum disorder. She provides services in both the educational and clinical settings. Linda authored chapters on Applied Behavioral Analysis and Music Therapy Assessment in the 2012 and 2018 publications of: Early Childhood Music Therapy and Autism Spectrum Disorders. In 2007, Linda founded the Miracle 139 special needs ministry at the Rock Church in San Diego, CA. Recognizing a big need for churches to become equipped to welcome children with special needs, Linda published “Miracle 139: Special Needs Ministry Development & Training Manual”, designed to help churches start and maintain effective special needs ministries. Linda is also the Founder and President of Miracle 139 International, an organization that provides special education and special needs ministry training internationally.

Set Them Up For Success: Proactive Behavior Supports for Your Church Ministry

Challenging behaviors are likely the main reason why many churches hesitate to invest in special needs ministry. It is emotion- and energy-draining, not to mention potentially hazardous. In this workshop, you will learn how to set up your special needs ministry to prevent challenging behaviors from happening in the first place. Learn helpful tools and strategies that will help you be proactive in supporting the behavior needs of the children you serve.

Janice Chan
Janice Chan, M.A., BCBA, is the deacon of special needs ministry at Reservoir Church in San Diego where she coordinates a special needs respite program called Buddy Break. In her day job, she specializes in training adults to use Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) with young children with autism. She is currently the lead trainer on an autism research team at University of California, San Diego. She is also a professor at San Diego State University.

Best Buddies: Training that will ensure your church has the best buddies possible!

Proper 'buddy' training will ensure both your volunteers and the students you serve have a safe and fun experience while at church! Attendees will learn 5 keys to training up the best buddies around!

Rebeca Gomez
Rebeca Gomez is the Director of the Special Needs Ministry at EastLake Church in San Diego. She’s been leading this ministry for almost six years. She leads a support group for the parents of kids with special needs in her community. This group also plans events where children with special needs can become part of the community. Beginning last year, she has been working with the local school district to provide an opportunity and space for transitional programs participants to gain and learn everyday skills. She is currently attending Point Loma Nazarene University to obtain her Masters in Special Education. She is passionate about inclusion and providing resources for parents of kids with special needs. Her goal is to open an inclusion school in Mexico where kids with special needs can be educated, and provide resources for their parents.

The Disability Ministry Conference would not be possible without the generous support of our sponsors:

Friendship Ministries
Young Life Capernaum

Our Generous Sponsors

Calvary Church of Santa Ana
Crossroads Church
Friendship Ministries
Miracle 139
Young Life Friendship Ministry

Our Mission




© 2017 Disability Ministry Conference. All Rights Reserved.