Special Needs Champion Denise Briley Wins Orange Award at #OC12
Each year The Orange Conference recognizes leaders who have made a lasting and eternal impact in the participants of their ministry. Nearly always the award goes to someone who has made a bigger impact in the whole field of family ministry and sometimes without even realizing it. This past Friday Reggie Joiner and Sue Miller surprised Denise Briley by honoring her with an Orange Award from the conference main stage. When it comes to special needs ministry, hundreds of ministry leaders across the United States, and especially Texas, can attest to the fact that few people have had the influence and impact of Denise Briley.
In 1995 Denise struggled to find a church that could accommodate the unique needs of her son Clayton. After being turned away from a number of churches, Lori Jones, the Children’s Pastor at Graceview Baptist in Tomball, Texas approached Denise and asked the question, “How can we help you?” That conversation would lead to a friendship and ultimately a ministry that would serve thousands (literally) of children and families impacted by special needs. Denise Briley is one of those people who constantly looks for ways to share Jesus. And the willingness of Graceview Baptist to embrace Clayton and the entire Briley family would ultimately give Denise an opportunity to change the landscape of special needs ministry far and wide. Denise has even served as the inspiration behind Lifeway’s Special Buddies Curriculum.
If you have served in special needs ministry in Texas, odds are you have benefitted either first-hand or second-hand from a training, a “how to” manual, or a conference put on by Denise. It is virtually impossible to count the number of people and churches who have in some way benefited from Denise’s passion or expertise. See Denise’s answer to the question “How Do You Prevent Burnout as a Special Needs Ministry Leader?”
Denise’s son Clayton went to be with Jesus on February 1st, 2009. In 2010/2011 Denise wisely decided to take a break from ministry to allow herself a period to grieve and to physically and emotionally recover. After a break, Denise was called back into ministry. And in Fall of 2011, Denise joined the staff of Houston’s First Baptist Church as the Coordinator of the church’s Thru the Roof Ministry. And on any given Saturday, you’ll find Denise speaking at conferences to teach and inspire other church leaders to better include families impacted by special needs.
Denise tells a beautiful story of faith, family and ministry in her recently released book, Feathers from Heaven.
Below we show a video where you see Denise’s face and reaction as she realizes she is the person receiving the Orange Award. You will hear Sue Miller telling Denise’s story from the stage. Since working on special needs inclusion in churches, there has been absolutely no greater moment of joy for me personally than Friday morning when I watched Denise receive a fraction of honor and appreciation that she so richly deserves. Denise, I know you want to give Jesus all the credit – and I love you for that! But please let me say, “Thank you Denise for being faithful to serving our God. And thank you for so diligently praying for opportunities for Jesus to receive glory out of your own less-than-perfect situation. We too celebrate Clayton and the way he continues to bring others to Jesus.”