LSA conference to focus on needs, gifts of disabled

“One God One Call” — a conference that seeks to build inclusive ministries that support the spiritual lives of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities as well as introduce congregations to the gifts these individuals have to offer — is planned for April 27-29 in Omaha, Neb.

disability-conf-INThe conference is sponsored by the Disability Network of Lutheran Services in America, which is composed of more than 20 Lutheran organizations that serve people with disabilities. It is designed for pastors, families, teachers, outreach specialists and “anyone with a passion for advocacy and education in the area of disability ministry,” said a conference spokesman.

“Since nearly 3 percent of the U.S. population has a developmental disability, it is likely that nearly every member of your congregation has family or friends directly impacted,” according to the conference website. “The One God One Call conference is designed for those who wish to strengthen existing ministry as well as those who feel the need to begin this important work.”

Keynote speakers are:

  • Barbara J. Newman, an author, teacher and church/school consultant for the Christian Learning Center Network based in Wyoming, Mich. Newman wrote Autism and Your Church, which offers practical ways to welcome and include those with autism in congregational life.
  • Dr. Erik Carter, associate professor of Special Education at Vanderbilt University and author of Including People with Disabilities in Faith Communities: A Guide for Service Providers, Families and Congregations. Carter’s special areas of interest include transition from high school to adult life, peer-support strategies and peer relationships, and faith and disability.

“We have a tendency to overlook those with intellectual disabilities,” acknowledged the Rev. Dr. Jack Preus, executive vice-president of Mission Advancement for Bethesda Lutheran Communities, Watertown, Wis., in a Jan. 31 interview on KFUO-AM Radio.

The One God One Call conference, he said, “is about changing these attitudes, and about giving practical, real advice to congregations that want to be more inclusive, to encourage folks with disabilities to be part of their congregation.”

Without the “unique gifts” of those with intellectual disabilities, Preus added, “the church would be less than what God intends it to be.”

Conference registration is $199 and includes an evening reception, two continental breakfasts and one lunch. The registration deadline is March 21.

A special room rate is available at the Embassy Suites Downtown/Old Market in Omaha, site of the conference, until April 5 (or earlier if the block of rooms sells out).

To register, click here.

For more information, visit the website above or contact David Morstad, executive director of the Bethesda Institute in Watertown, at 920-206-4405 or

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