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2011 Orange Conference – Special Needs Workshops & Presenters

January 21, 2011

**For information on the 2012 Orange Conference Special Needs Track, click here.**

The Orange Conference is pleased to announce the special needs focused workshops and presenters for their April 27th – 29th, 2011 event at The Gwinnett Arena in Duluth, GA.  The Orange Conference is a premier event for church leaders who influence the next generation.

HOW TO: Make a Big Impact in Children and Families with Special Needs

Wednesday, April 27 – 9:30 am

Amy Fenton Lee

Most of us struggle to find the right words and appropriate actions to effectively minister to a family affected by special needs. In this breakout we’ll offer guidance on what to say and what not to say to parents processing a special needs diagnosis for their child. Practical ideas will be given on how a ministry team can weave an affected family into the fabric of church. The information presented in this session is the product of more than 60 interviews with mothers who each have a child with special needs as well as real life success stories shared by churches of all sizes.

HOW TO: Build a Successful and Safe Special Needs Ministry

Wednesday, April 27 – 10:45am

Katie Garvert

For a church of any size, upfront planning and preparation are crucial for a church’s success in special needs inclusion. Together, we’ll walk through the formal policies and informal guidelines you and your team may want to consider as you plan for greater disability accommodation. In addition, we’ll cover the specifics of equipping special needs ministry servants and how to lead a successful volunteer training event.

HOW TO: Recruit Special Needs Volunteers

Wednesday, April 27 – 1:00pm

Harmony Hensley

With a little creativity and a lot of fun, inclusion ministries can attract purpose-driven, energetic volunteers. We’ll arm you with unconventional ideas for recruiting a special needs ministry team while simultaneously building greater church momentum for inclusion. This breakout will be jam packed with out-of-the box best practices for scouting out, equipping and keeping super-charged lay servants.

HOW TO: Plan Special Needs Space

Wednesday, April 27 – 2:15pm

Harmony Hensley

Who knew the paint color could be part of the strategy for better special needs inclusion? Together, we’ll cover some of the obvious changes a church can make to better accommodate physical disabilities. In addition, you’ll hear ideas for easy (and budget-friendly) acoustic treatments, lighting, and visual modifications that can significantly help a person with ADHD, sensory issues or any number of neurological challenges. You’ll leave armed with ideas for ways to create a more meaningful church experience for the person with recognized and hidden disabilities.

HOW TO: Successfully Include the Child Affected by Autism

Wednesday, April 27 – 3:30pm

Katie Garvert

Including the child with autism spectrum disorder requires a multi-faceted approach to church accommodation. Together, we’ll look at the potential impact on the whole church experience, including existing children’s ministry environments (Sunday morning, Wednesday evening, etc.). You’ll hear ideas about how programming can be structured so that a child can float between full class participation and a designated “recharge” area. We’ll also offer effective teaching techniques and behavior management strategies with autism characteristics in mind.

Special Needs: Teaching Techniques to Engage Different Learners

Thursday, April 28 – 11:30am

Amy Fenton Lee

The success of a child is often closely tied to the success of a volunteer. In this fast-paced session we’ll equip you with tricks and tactics for keeping the most challenging child engaged. You’ll learn easy and effective communication techniques, behavior management strategies, and activity adaptations that can make Sunday mornings, Wednesday nights and VBS environments a meaningful experience for everyone involved. Lay volunteers will be prepared to work with children diagnosed with ADHD, various learning differences and sensory processing disorder.

Successfully Including the Preteen and Youth Affected by Autism

Thursday, April 28 – 2:30pm

Katie Garvert

Advancing the spiritual development of the preteen and adolescent affected by autism is more complex than finding a class for participation. Creating a meaningful church experience involves examining individualized gifts and goals for the participating student(s) with autism and within the context of a church’s capabilities. Together, we’ll look at some principles that may guide church ministry leaders, parents and students as they determine a specific path for a young person’s spiritual growth and church inclusion. You’ll leave with ideas for facilitating better peer inclusion as well as outside-the-box approaches to help the youth with autism plug into the broader family of faith.


About the Special Needs Presenters:

Katie Garvert is the Access Ministries Coordinator for Woodmen Valley Chapel in Colorado Springs, CO.  Woodmen Valley Chapel currently serves 70 individuals affected by special needs, many with autism spectrum disorder.  Katie has helped Woodmen Valley Chapel establish special needs inclusion programming and parent support events for this multi site church.    She is also responsible for overseeing the church’s deaf ministry.  Prior to joining the Woodmen Valley team four years ago, Katie was a special education teacher in the public schools system.

Harmony Hensley is the Pastor & Director of Outreach & Inclusion Ministry at the Vineyard Cincinnati in Cincinnati, OH.  She has a dual degree in Biblical Studies and Ministry Leadership from Cincinnati Christian University and has a background in design and marketing.  In addition to her role at VCC she is also a consultant for the special needs inclusion.  Harmony’s passion for inclusion ministry stems from her high school years where she was a special education student.  She has developed ministry models for Respite and Prom Outreaches that have been reproduced in churches across the United States and in Ireland.

Amy Fenton Lee is the writer behind The Inclusive Church Blog (  Amy’s passion is in equipping faith communities to successfully include families and children with special needs.  As an active children’s ministry volunteer and the daughter of a church senior pastor, Amy understands the unique subculture of the church.  Amy researches for her writing by interviewing next-generation-ministry leaders as well as secular education and medical professionals.  Her writing on special needs inclusion and other family ministry-related topics have been featured in numerous secular and Christian publications.  Along with her husband and young son, Amy lives outside Atlanta, GA.


See for more information on The Orange Conference.  Early registration discounts are available through February 17th, 2011.

From → Conferences

  1. Amy, Congratulations on presenting at the Orange Conference!

  2. Thanks Andrea! I don’t think I’ve ever been to an event with as much energy as the Orange Conference.

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