That All May Worship 2015

Embracing Inclusion was the theme of That All May Worship-2015, a conference dedicated to developing awareness and sharing faith and disability resources. Each national speaker was introduced by Dr. Erik Carter and was asked to choose and share a five minute presentation around the topic of “Embracing Inclusion”.
Janice Benton-What person or experience has inspired you to embrace inclusion?
Lorna Bradley-What is an innovative program that can help faith communities embrace inclusion?
Erik Carter-Introduction: Am I complete without you?
Shelly Christensen-What is your best advice for faith communities beginning to embrace inclusion?
Bill Gaventa-Closing: Moving ahead as we embrace inclusion
Stephanie Hubach-What does a welcoming faith community look like when we embrace inclusion?
Jeff McNair-What does a welcoming faith community look like when we embrace inclusion?
David Morstad-What does a welcoming faith community look like when we embrace inclusion?
Barbara Newman-What does a welcoming faith community look like when we embrace inclusion?
Jolene Philo-Why is embracing inclusion important to you? What drives your passion?
Milton Tyree-Why is embracing inclusion important to you? What drives your passion?
Dan Vander Plaats-What does a welcoming faith community look like when we embrace inclusion?
Mohammed Yousuf-What person or experience has inspired you to embrace inclusion?
Also included are 7-8 minute interviews with Erik Carter, Shelly Christensen, Bill Gaventa, Stephanie Hubach, Jeff McNair, Barbara Newman and Curtis Ramsey Lucas.

Scroll through our guest speakers below or view all our videos on our YouTube Channel

We have also provided a study guide to go along with the That All May Worshop videos. Download the study guide here.

Janice L. Benton

Janice L. Benton, Executive Director of the National Catholic Partnership on Disability (NCPD), Washington, DC, guides initiatives aimed at promoting greater participation of persons with disabilities in the Catholic Church. She frequently speaks at national and diocesan conferences, and as a guest on national Catholic radio. In 2012, Janice received the Harry A. Fagan Award from the Roundtable Association of Catholic Diocesan Social Action Directors, and the Justice, Peace & the Integrity of Creation Award from the National Fraternity of the Secular Franciscan Order, USA. Ms. Benton spoke at the Vatican international symposium on autism, November 2014.
She is a professed Secular Franciscan, and wife and mother to two adult children.

Rev. Dr. Lorna Bradley

Rev. Dr. Lorna Bradley, an ordained deacon in the United Methodist Church, received MTS and Doctorate of Ministry degrees from Perkins School of Theology. Her D. Min project examines how churches can provide a holistic welcome to families raising children with special needs by meeting the emotional and spiritual needs within the entire family. In addition to developing curriculum for special needs parent support, she has led a parent support group for four years and worked in welcoming ministries for ten years. She and her husband have an adult son with who has Asperger’s Syndrome. Lorna enjoys spending time with her family, entertaining, traveling, scuba diving, and running.

Erik Carter

Erik Carter is an Associate Professor in the Department Special Education at Vanderbilt University and a member of the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center. His research and teaching focuses on evidence-based strategies for supporting access to the general curriculum and promoting valued roles in school, work, and community settings for children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Prior to receiving his doctorate, he worked as a high school teacher and transition specialist with youth with significant disabilities. He has published widely in the areas of educational and transition services for children and youth with significant disabilities. He was the recipient of the Distinguished Early Career Research Award from the Council for Exceptional Children and the Early Career Award from the American Association for Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities.

Shelly Christensen

Shelly Christensen, MA literally wrote the book on inclusion of people with disabilities, the Jewish Community Guide to Inclusion of People with Disabilities. Her award-winning work as Program Manager of the Minneapolis Jewish Community Inclusion Program for People with Disabilities at Jewish Family and Children’s Service of Minneapolis led her to co-found Jewish Disability Awareness Month with the Jewish Special Education Consortium in 2009. Shelly’s work as founder and Executive Director of Inclusion Innovations, where she provides training, organizational and community development, and strategic planning so Jewish organizations and communities can become more welcoming and inclusive, is the standard in the field of sacred community inclusion.
Shelly is a graduate of the National Leadership Consortium on Developmental Disabilities at the University of Delaware which, she writes, “Changed everything I believed about including people with disabilities and their families in the Jewish community and transformed my work as a leader.” She is co-founder and faculty member of the new Jewish Leadership Institute on Disabilities and Inclusion funded by the Ruderman Family Foundation. Shelly speaks at national and international conferences including Union for Reform Judaism Biennial, ADVANCE, Jewish Federation of North America’s General Assembly, the 2012 Disability Inclusion Initiative, the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, World Union for Progressive Judaism and the Summer Institute on Theology and Disability. Shelly serves as adjunct faculty for the Union for Reform Judaism and in June, 2014 became the president of the Religion and Spirituality Division of the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities. Her articles on inclusion and parent perspectives have appeared in journals, and she has published chapters in a number of books.

Bill Gaventa

Bill Gaventa is currently the Director of the Summer Institute on Theology and Disability, funded by The Bethesda Institute, and a consultant, trainer, and speaker. He served as Director of Community and Congregational Supports at the Elizabeth M. Boggs Center on Developmental Disabilities, and Associate Professor, Pediatrics, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School until June 30, 2013. He now lives in Waco, Texas.

In his role at The Boggs Center, Bill worked on community supports, initiatives in cultural competence, aging/end of life issues, supervision of a program in Clinical Pastoral Education, faith community leadership, and inclusive congregational supports. He has been active in initiatives in workforce development, support of direct care staff, self-directed supports, and staff training.

The Summer Institute on Theology and Disability

Stephanie Hubach

Since May 2007, Stephanie Hubach has served as Mission to North America’s Special Needs Ministries Director. Mission to North America (MNA) is associated with the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA). She currently serves on the Lancaster Christian Council on Disability (LCCD) and on the advisory board for Chosen Families. For eight years prior to her appointment at MNA, Steph and her husband Fred led the Special Needs Ministry at Reformed Presbyterian Church in Ephrata, PA. Steph also formerly volunteered as a member of the board of directors for The Arc of Lancaster County, chairperson of the Lancaster County Mental Health/Mental Retardation Advisory Board, and president of the board of directors for the Infant Evaluation
Program of State College, PA.

Steph is the author of Same Lake, Different Boat: Coming Alongside People Touched by Disability (Presbyterian and Reformed Publishers, September 2006), director of a Christian
Education DVD series by the same title, and author of All Things Possible: Calling Your Church
Leadership to Embrace Disability Ministry (Joni and Friends, August 2007). She has been published in ByFaith magazine, Covenant magazine, Focus on the Family magazine, and Breakpoint online magazine. Steph writes regularly for, a blog for parents of children with special needs, written by Christian authors who have children with disabilities.
Steph also coordinated a writing team for Christianity Today to provide a Disability Ministry
Track in The Ministry Essentials Bible, due to be released in October 2014.

Jeff McNair, PhD

Jeff McNair, PhD, is the Director of the Public Policy Center at the Joni and Friends Christian Institute on Disability. Dr. McNair is also a faculty member at California Baptist University where he oversees the M.A. in Disabilities Studies program which is a collaborative effort with the Christian Institute on Disability.

He has been a professor of special education for over twenty years and is recognized as an expert in the area of moderate to severe disabilities. Dr. McNair is a regular contributor to journals and magazines and is a highly sought after speaker on issues of community and social integration through churches and disability ministry.

Jeff was founding president of the National Association of Christians in Special Education (NACSPED) and is currently President of the Religion and Spirituality Division of the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities. Dr. McNair is the 2010 recipient of the Christian Service Award from Bethesda Lutheran Communities.

Jeff and his wife Kathi have been personally involved in ministry to adults with intellectual disabilities for nearly 30 years. He currently leads the Light and Power Company, a ministry that includes adults with disabilities at Trinity Church in Redlands, CA.

David Morstad

Since 2010, David Morstad has served as executive director of the Bethesda Institute. Created in 2009, the Institute is the primary outreach division of Bethesda, providing consultation, resources, research, education, professional training and leadership development.
Prior to becoming executive director of the Institute, Morstad served in a number of different roles with the organization since 1977, most recently as vice president of Communications. He’s a widely published author of educational resource materials. In 2010, he received the Henri J.M. Nouwen Award from the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities.
Morstad has bachelor’s degrees in Fine Arts and Education and a master’s degree in Special Education. He was married in 1976, and has three children and one grandchild. His hobbies include music composition, travel and scuba diving.

Barbara J Newman

Barbara J Newman is a church and school consultant for CLC Network. She is the author of “Helping Kids Include Kids with Disabilities”, “The Easter Book”, “Autism and Your Church”, “Any Questions? – a Guidebook for Inclusive Education”, “Nuts and Bolts of Inclusive Education”, “Circle of Friends Training Manual”, and “Body Building: Devotions to Celebrate Inclusive Community”. She has written curriculum for Friendship Ministries, was a major contributing author of “Special Needs SMART Pages” for Joni and Friends, co-authored the “G.L.U.E. Training Manual”, and is a frequent national speaker at educational conferences and churches. In addition to writing and speaking, Barb enjoys working in her classroom at Zeeland Christian School.

Jolene Philo

Jolene Philo is the daughter of a father who had disabilities and she parented a child that had special needs as a baby and toddler. She’s a former educator with 25 years of public school experience. Her books related to special needs include the Different Dream series, The Caregiver’s Notebook, Every Child Welcome and a new book about PTSD in children soon to be released. She speaks frequently at special needs and foster care conferences around the country and conducts special needs ministry training workshops for churches. Jolene and her husband Hiram live in Boone. They are parents of two married children and grandparents to three beautiful grandchildren.

Curtis Ramsey-Lucas

Curtis Ramsey-Lucas is the Director of Interfaith Engagement with AAPD. Ramsey-Lucas coordinates the work of the Interfaith Disability Advocacy Coalition (IDAC), a diverse, nonpartisan coalition of 33 national religious organizations from the Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu and Sikh traditions whose core spiritual values affirm the rights and dignity of people with disabilities. IDAC seeks to mobilize the religious community to speak out and take action with Congress, the president and administration, and society at large on disability policy including access to employment, independent living, health care and education. He also manages AAPD’s Mental Health and Faith Community Partnership with the American Psychiatric Association which is working to reduce stigma associated with mental illness while improving community-based services and supports for individuals with mental health conditions and their families.

Milton Tyree

Milton Tyree’s work is centered on offering people with disabilities ways of participation in valued aspects of everyday life. He coordinates several initiatives for the University of Kentucky’s Human Development Institute. “Putting Faith to Work,” is a Kessler Foundation funded project exploring possibilities for people with disabilities pursuing good employment through the supports inherent in their faith communities. “The Supported Employment Training Project” seeks improved employment opportunities through the human services sector. Another statewide project, “Endeavor for Excellence,” is built around a small community of practice focused on devoting time to know people with disabilities, and then learning about and developing relevant valued social roles, in addition to the employee role — for example, becoming an active member in a faith community. He also consults via e-mail and phone for the Presbyterians for Disability Concerns about the benefits of congregational inclusion as well as possible integrative approaches. Milt lives in Louisville with his wife of thirty years, Vicky, and their 17 year old daughter, Kaylyn.

Dan Vander Plaats

Dan Vander Plaats is the Director of Advancement at Elim Christian Services in Palos Heights, Illinois, a ministry that exists to equip people who live with disabilities to answer God’s call on their lives. He is also a member of the advisory committee for Disability Concerns for the Christian Reformed Church. In 2009, he developed “5 Stages: The Journey of Disability Attitudes” as a resource for Elim. The 5 Stages helps churches and individuals assess their attitudes toward people with disabilities. He is married to Denise (Hiemstra), and is father to Ben and Emma. They are members of Orland Park Christian Reformed Church in Illinois.

Mohammed Yousuf

Mohammed Yousuf is the founder and president of the EquallyAble Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to empowering people with disabilities globally. Since 2001, the EquallyAble Foundation has provided inclusion and disability awareness information in seminars, workshops and events to thousands of people across the United States. Approximately 5000 individuals with disabilities have also received assistance globally including allowing around individuals to create small businesses.
Mr. Yousuf is also a research transportation specialist in FHWA’s Office of Operations Research and Development and works on enabling technology solutions for intelligent transportation systems. He is leading the new Accessible Transportation Technology Research Initiative (ATTRI) which focuses on improving mobility of travelers with disabilities using Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) and assistive technology.