Access Ministry of McLean Bible Church presents one of the most requested workshops for visiting churches. Ministry and volunteer leaders will hear about the various programs Access Ministry offers, such as Sunday School; weekend respite care; Signs of Life (Deaf community); the Friendship Club; Vacation Bible School; summer camp; sibling support; Community Lecture Series; and parent events. Participants will also have the opportunity to tour the Access facilities, which is the only time during the weekend that the area is open.
Jackie Mills-Fernald, Access Ministry, McLean Bible Church
Jackie Mills-Fernald has served as the Director of Access Ministry at McLean Bible Church for 13 years. One of the largest disability ministries in the United States, Access provides a broad range of programs to hundreds of families in the Washington, DC area. She has been on multiple mission trips in recent years to India, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Russia, Serbia, Romania, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Ukraine to present workshops for helping churches to reach out and minister to individuals and families impacted by disabilities, as well as conduct training sessions for school personnel to help create an inclusive culture.
HOT Topics for Families
In a format similar to TED Talks, participants will hear 5 mini-presentation packed with valuable information of interest to families of children and adults with special needs. A group of experts will share their experience and expertise on a range of topics:
Making Healthy Lifestyle Choices
Dr. Joni Johnson, Pediatric Partners for Attention and Learning
From Chaos to Order in 10 Easy Steps
Jolene Philo, Different Dream Living
Navigating Family Life
Matt Mooney, 99 Balloons
The Gift of Wings
Linda Starnes, PEART Parent/Family Education & Advocacy Resources & Training Website
ABLE Accounts – Another Tool in the Toolbox
Tia Marsili, The Arc of Northern Virginia
Dr. Joni Johnson is the Founder and Medical Director for Pediatric Partners for Attention and Learning in Stafford and Great Falls, VA, and also the Founder of CogSolid Athletics. A product of the United States Military Academy and Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Dr. Johnson has spent her 18 year career caring for military families. The last 9 years have been dedicated exclusively to helping individuals reach their fullest potential. Through her multi-disciplinary clinic and athletic program, Dr. Johnson hopes to forever change the way we diagnosis, treat, think about, and encourage individuals with ADHD, Autism and Learning Differences.
Jolene Philo comes to special needs parenting from several perspectives. As a parent, she advocated within the health care community for 2 decades on behalf of her son. She is a former teacher with 25 years of public school experience and author of 5 books for parents of children with special needs and caregivers. Her most recent book, Does My Child Have PTSD? was released last year. She speaks at special needs and foster care conferences around the country.
Matt Mooney is the co-founder of 99 Balloons, an organization that works with individuals with disabilities locally and globally. 99 Balloons was formed in honor of his son, Eliot, who was diagnosed with trisomy 18 before he was born and lived just 99 days. Matt also started rEcess, a respite program that now serves 33 communities in 13 U.S. States, as well as sites in Canada and Australia. He is very committed to global ministry and is a passionate champion for bringing about more inclusive communities around the world.
Linda Starnes is a seasoned family advocate and the parent of two young adults with varying abilities and significant healthcare needs. Linda serves on multiple academic, healthcare, and disability-related boards; presents at conferences across the country; has been honored with a variety of awards; and her family has been featured in several filmed presentations, books, and articles. Through her work with the Healthcare Transition Workgroup of the Southeast Regional Genetics Collaborative and the Advisory Council of Miami University’s Mailman Child Development Center, Linda is highly informed on issues surrounding special healthcare transition.
Tia Marsili has been with the Arc of Northern Virginia for over 10 years and currently serves as the Director of Trusts. She is a trained educational consultant with 24 years of experience in the world of special needs, including hundreds of hours in disability trainings, and endless IEP meetings. She is the parent of two daughters with disabilities and a strong advocate for her own girls, as well as other children and adults with special needs.
HOT Topics for Ministries
In a format similar to TED Talks, participants will hear 5 individual mini-presentations packed with information on a variety of topics relevant to special needs ministry, presented by experienced ministry leaders.
Beyond Sunday: Building Relationships & Community
Sib Charles, Joni and Friends, Eastern PA
Chronic Sorrow & Resolved Sorrow
Laura Pollard, Shepherds College, Union Grove, WI
Mentoring Young Leaders with Disabilities
Ryan Wolfe, First Christian Church, Canton, OH
Keeping Ministry Safe
Gina Spivey, Calvary Community Church, Westlake Village, CA
The Church’s Role in the Disability Employment Crisis
Matt Curcio, Break the Roof and Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN
Enabling Ministry: Practicing Faith with Children with Disabilities
Ben Connor, Western Theological Seminary, Holland, MI
Sib Charles has been involved with the ministry of Joni and Friends since 1986. In 1991 she helped spearhead the Family Retreat program for Joni and Friends, which now has 28 Family Retreats throughout the country and 16 internationally. As Community and Church Relations Manager, Sib equips local churches to welcome and include individuals affected by disability into their church life. She is a graduate of Eastern Mennonite University, married to Jess Charles, and the mother of one grown son. A farming accident in 1983 left Sib’s husband, Jess, a quadriplegic. Together they advocate for the needs of individuals affected by disability. They are members of Manor Brethren in Christ, Lancaster, PA.
Laura Pollard serves as a Student Advisor and Instructor at Shepherds College, one of the nation’s premier post-secondary schools for young adults with intellectual disabilities. She received a Bachelor’s of Science in Special Education from Carson Newman College and ministry training from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Laura is currently pursuing a Master’s of Arts and subsequent licensure in Professional Counseling from Concordia University. Her passion is for students of all ability levels to realize their potential as God’s workmanship through the pursuit of independence.
Ryan Wolfe’s ministry calling is Proverbs 31:8. He has been a Full-Time Disability Ministry Pastor at First Christian Church in Canton, OH since 2010. He is also a Part-Time Church Consultant for Key Ministry where he helps churches and organizations take a next step in their Disability Ministry. Ryan is an author for irresistiblechurch.org and launched a website called disabilityministry.com as part of his passion to resource people and better prepare them for Disability Ministry.
Gina Spivey is the Special Needs Director at Calvary Community Church. Since becoming the Director in 2014, the ministry has nearly tripled in size, and the church as a whole as caught the vision and value of the special needs ministry. Prior to ministry, Gina was a Child and Infant Development Specialist for twelve years, working with foster children who had pre-natal drug and alcohol exposure. She also worked in Autism Diagnostics and ran a speech therapy clinic.
Matt Curcio is the Founder of Break the Roof Ministry and has been a special needs advocate for almost ten years, motivated by his own physical disability. Aside from running his ministry, he works at Vanderbilt University, researching the intersection between faith and disability. His past experience includes being a college and young adult minister; seminary student; writer; and speaker. Matt’s calling is to create an accessible culture for people of all abilities.
Ben Conner, PhD is an Associate Professor of Discipleship and the Director of the Graduate Certificate in Disability and Ministry at Western Theological Seminary. He has written the only book to date on youth ministry with adolescents with disabilities, Amplifying Our Witness (Eerdmans, 2012). He is also a youth ministry veteran with 20 years experience, having served seven years on Capernaum staff (Young Life’s work with young people with disabilities). He now serves on the Young Life Capernaum Mission-Wide Board and is on the Advisory Board of Friendship House Partners.