February 1 Event Will Provide Information and Inspiration for Individuals, Families, and Church Groups

On Saturday, February 1, 2020, St. Andrews Presbyterian Church will host a conference to address ways that church leaders and congregations can better support and engage individuals with special needs and disabilities. The public is invited to attend the event, which will be held in the church’s Great Hall from 8:30 AM–1 PM, free of charge. No pre-registration is required, but interested parties are encouraged to e-mail [email protected] with the number of people expected to attend from their group. St. Andrews Presbyterian Church is located near Irmo at 6952 St. Andrews Road, Columbia, SC.

Ashley Belknap, MSN, will be the keynote speaker at the conference. Belknap is Director of Engaging Disability with the Gospel, a missional partnership of Mission to North America that serves people touched by a wide range of disabilities—physical, intellectual, neurological, psychiatric, sensory, learning, chronic illness, geriatric impairments, and more. After Belknap’s keynote address, attendees will break out into groups led by local special needs ministries. There will also be question-and-answer sessions with ministry leaders and time set aside for connection-building.

Topics that will be covered at the conference may include, but are not limited to: how to apply one’s gifts to volunteering to serve the disabled; 20 ways that anyone can care for and encourage individuals and families who are impacted by a disability; developing accommodations to aid accessibility and address other challenges faced by disabled individuals; and welcoming persons with disabilities and their families into the church. Pastors, ministers, spiritual leaders, and those who are interested in ministering to the disabled are invited to attend and brainstorm on innovative ways to reach, care for, and support those with disabilities and special needs.

St. Andrews Presbyterian’s Senior Pastor, Dr. Dale Welden, noted the need for the conference. “Through the years, I have seen a frustration surrounding ministry to those with special needs and disabilities. Churches want to be loving and minister to those who have these needs and their families, but too often find they are not equipped to or simply do not know how. Families may become frustrated when a church isn’t able to help them, and some even give up on the church altogether,” he said. Welden hopes that the workshop will “help anyone who desires to show the love of Christ to those with special needs or disabilities and their families.”

Please e-mail [email protected] with any questions about the event. For more information about St. Andrews Presbyterian Church or to receive a flyer about the conference, visit www.sapc.net. To learn more about Ashley Belknap and her work, visit her non-profit website www.engagingdisability.org.