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Orange Conference 2014 Special Needs Track

December 2, 2013

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I’m thrilled to announce the special needs workshops for the upcoming Orange Conference, April 30th – May 2nd, 2014.  Each workshop and breakout is held at a different time so that if a participant chooses, they can attend everything on the special needs track.  Details for the special needs networking event are not yet finalized, but rest assured our popular gathering will be part of the OC14 schedule.  We know special needs leaders value conversation and connection with one another.

The Orange Conference 2014 Special Needs Track

April 30th – Preconference Workshops

Training Volunteers to be Prepared for Children and Students with Autism
Dr. Stephen Hunsley
We’ll offer best practices for training volunteers and trouble-shooting so to engage kids of different ages and stages along the autism spectrum.

Transitioning Participants with Special Needs into Middle School, High School, and Adult Ministry Environments
Katie Garvert
We’ll look ahead, proactively creating church supports and transition strategies, as students with learning differences promote to the next ministry life stage.

Navigating Behavior Challenges
Meaghan Wall
We’ll cover best practices for hands-free strategies to reduce anxiety in ministry participants and to de-escalate unsafe or undesirable behaviors in the ministry environment.

5 Things Every Special Needs Leader Needs to Know
Connie Hutchinson
A special needs ministry veteran will provide insight from two decades of challenges and successes in disability inclusion.

May 1st – Conference Breakouts

Strategies to Engage Every Child
Amy Fenton Lee
30+ tips and tools to successfully include children with ADHD, autism, sensory needs, and other learning differences.

Promoting Spiritual Growth Inside the Family Impacted by Disability
Katie Garvert
We’ll offer practical ideas for how a church can strategically support the parents, siblings, and (often struggling) marriage inside the home of a child with special needs.

Leading Teen Volunteers
Meaghan Wall
We’ll show you how to train teens to be your ministry’s best asset while intentionally creating an environment that fosters life-change for serving teens.

Special Needs Ministry Top 10
Amy Fenton Lee
We’ll talk through current trends and issues a church can anticipate as they welcome more kids with special needs.


Screen Shot 2013-12-10 at 4.17.18 PMKatie Garvert is the Access Ministries Coordinator for Woodmen Valley Chapel in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Woodmen Valley Chapel currently serves around 90 individuals affected by special needs.  Over the past nine years Katie has helped WVC establish special needs inclusion programming over virtually every age group and stage of life for this multi-site church.  The Access ministry hosts a dad’s support group, regular parent respite events, sibling retreats and respite camp experiences for students with special needs.  Katie also oversees the church’s deaf and hard of hearing ministry.  Through her role with WVC, Katie connects attending families to different agencies in the Rocky Mountain Region while also serving as a family advocate at students’ meetings in schools.  Katie frequently speaks at other ministry conferences to train church leaders for better special needs inclusion.  Prior to joining the WVC staff, Katie was a special education teacher in the Colorado public school system.  You can follow Access Ministries on Facebook.

Image 1Dr. Stephen “Doc” Hunsley is the Special Needs and People Care Pastor for Grace Church in Overland Park, Kansas.  Doc started Grace Church’s Special Needs Ministry in 2011, helping it to become a hallmark ministry for the church.  The SOAR (Special Opportunities, Abilities, and Relationships) Special Needs Ministry serves over 170 individuals with special needs through weekend church programming, family support groups, and regular respite events. SOAR also has adult programming on the weekend and plans for a Special Needs Day Camp and VBS this coming summer. Doc leads the Kansas City Special Needs Ministries Network, for area church leaders. Prior to serving as a special needs pastor, Doc was a children’s pastor.  Doc is a retired pediatrician while his wife, Kay, continues practicing pediatrics.  They are proud parents to three beautiful children: Luke, Mark & Sarah. The Hunsley’s middle child, Mark, is presently running the halls of heaven.  During Mark’s 5-year earthly stay, he gave his family the opportunity to learn from and love a child with autism.  You can follow SOAR on Facebook or Connect with Doc on Twitter: @DocHunsley

 conniehutchinsonConnie Hutchinson is the Director of Disabilities Ministry at First Evangelical Free Church of Fullerton, California. Considered to be one of the longest serving special needs ministry staff leaders, Connie has lead EvFree’s disability ministry for nearly twenty-two years.  Connie oversees ministry participants’ individualized inclusion plans, five Sunday school classes, weekend programming, and respite, as well as teen and adult connection events.  Connie also directs EvFree’s summer experience for kids with special needs, trained teen buddies, and typical peers.  Connie has directed camps for teens or abused children in the foster care system for more than ten years.  Connie’s husband of forty-two years, Mike, is her most important ministry partner.  And Connie considers the lessons learned from her adult daughter Julie, who has Down syndrome, to the most valuable training for her work in the disability arena.  Connie proudly shares that Julie was the first person with intellectual disability elected to EvFree Fullerton’s deacon board.

Meaghan_WallMeaghan Wall is the Pastoral Leader of Special Needs at Stonebriar Community Church in Frisco, Texas where she has served for the past seven years.   Stonebriar Community Church currently welcomes around 100 students with special needs in the GIFT Ministry, providing various opportunities for their families to be actively involved in the church.   The GIFT Ministry offers specialized classrooms and inclusion programs on Sunday mornings, a weekly Art Class for teen and adult participants and monthly respite.  Meaghan leads training events to help other churches develop and grow their own special needs ministry.  Meaghan is a licensed and experienced social worker with a degree from Texas Tech University.   Meaghan is currently pursuing a Masters of Christian Leadership at Dallas Theological Seminary.  Connect with Meaghan on Twitter: @meaghan_wall

Amy Fenton Lee Bioshot November 2013Amy Fenton Lee is the Director of Special Needs Initiatives for The reThink Group. Amy is the author of Leading a Special Needs Ministry:  A Practical Guide to Loving Children and Including Families (Orange, 2013).  Amy has written extensively on the subject of special needs inclusion in children’s ministry for in-print publications, journals and websites, including the  Along with her husband and young son, Amy lives in Cumming, Georgia.  Connect with Amy on Twitter:  @AmyFentonLee and @SpNeedsKidmin



In honor of CyberMonday, Orange Store is selling the book Leading a Special Needs Ministry for $13.99 (reg. $18.99) and offering FREE standard shipping.  Use code “cybermonday” in the coupon field to purchase the book for $13.99 including shipping.  This offer is good through midnight tonight!

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