We kick off Orange Conference one week from today. If you can’t attend OC14, check back here next Wednesday and Thursday, as we’ll be posting notes and handouts from several Special Needs Track workshops. You can also follow the Orange Conference Live Stream. I’m working with the Live Stream team to (hopefully) schedule special needs ministry interviews on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. OC staff will release the tentative Live Stream schedule on the Orange Leaders Blog early next week.
If you are attending OC14, you need to dress comfortably and know about the following:
Special Needs Track Dinner – On Wednesday night from 5:00 – 6:30pm we are hosting an informal Special Needs Track dinner at Steverino’s Pizza in downtown Duluth, 5 miles from the conference venue. Anyone attending the conference is welcome to attend. The restaurant has given us the option to preorder dinner so that it will be waiting for us. We will be collecting preorder forms (OC14_SNTrack_SteverinosPizza_Directions_PreOrderForm) and $14 (cash only) during Wednesday’s Precon workshops. You do not need to preorder dinner in order to attend. Feel free to call in your own order ahead of time or just show up. This restaurant has a wonderful outdoor space that comfortably seats 60 people, so please pray for good weather.
Thursday night Gathering Event – Thursday night after the evening main session, every Orange Conference track will host a Gathering starting at 9pm. The Gathering location is at the John Maxwell Leader Center, on the other side of Satellite Blvd from the Gwinnett Convention Center. If you are in comfortable shoes and don’t mind a little stroll, you can walk. We will open up a Starbucks bar (our treat!) and offer complimentary cupcake bites from Special Kneads and Treats, a local bakery that employs adults with special needs. At our Gathering, we’ll have all the Special Needs Track speakers on hand as well as other experienced special needs ministry leaders including Julie Keith and Jennifer Ross, to answer your questions and connect with you. Look for our group on the 2nd floor in Suite A. (For those of you with an interest in curriculum adaptations for special needs, we’ll have surprise for you at this event!)
Connecting – Throughout the conference please make a point to meet the people around you. Your best takeaway may be a conversation or new connection. Introverts, come well-rested because you may be “pushed” a little! The number of people attending the OC Special Needs Track has grown notably, which is exciting. But it also means we may have to work a little harder to get to know one another. Unlike years past, our workshops won’t all be in the same room. In order to accommodate demand, the conference leadership moved several of our breakouts to larger rooms. Currently, we have special needs ministry breakouts that have been moved into rooms that seat 460 people and they too have sold out. Yes, you read that correctly. We have a conference of 6000 church leaders and more than 460 of them are making special needs ministry workshops a priority. (Amazing, huh?)
“Amy Fenton” Confusion – I am one of two OC workshops presenters named Amy Fenton. This has caused all kinds of fun confusion. The other Amy Fenton, who I often refer to as Amy Marler Fenton, is a longtime friend of mine. Our lives have run parallel for two decades as she attended one Baptist University (Samford) while I studied at another (Baylor). And then for several years she was the children’s pastor at a Birmingham Baptist church, just down the road from the Baptist church I attended and where my father is the Senior Pastor. When we both lived in Birmingham we would receive each other’s snail mail. Now, Amy lives in Nashville and I live outside Atlanta…but we both are employees of Orange and receive each other’s emails, daily. To stir it up a little more, the OC staff booked us as hotel roomies all next week.
A Milestone – In closing, today marks the one-year anniversary of the release of Leading a Special Needs Ministry: A Practical Guide to Including Children and Loving Families. I cringe at too much self-promotion but I do want to express appreciation to so many of you, who have referred others to this resource or written Amazon reviews. Ironically, the second printing of the book is due from the printer today. For those of you who don’t know, there is not a great amount of profit in the sales of printed books. For me, the “profit” is knowing that the book has been helpful to churches. Thanks for celebrating this milestone with me. ~ Amy Fenton Lee