Dr. Lamar Hardwick is a father, husband, pastor and best selling author. Lamar holds a Master of Divinity degree from Emory University as well as a Doctor of Ministry degree from Liberty University School of Divinity. In 2014, after years of silently struggling with social anxiety and sensory processing issues, Dr. Hardwick was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. He is the author of Epic Church as well as his best selling book, I am Strong: The Life and Journey of an Autistic Pastor. Lamar is the pastor of New Community Church located in Lagrange, GA.
Stephen 'Doc' Hunsley
Dr. Stephen “Doc” Hunsley is the SOAR Special Needs Director and Pastor for Grace Church in Overland Park and Olathe, Kansas. Doc started Grace Church’s special needs ministry in 2011, helping it to become a hallmark ministry for the church. The SOAR (Special Opportunities, Abilities, and Relationships) special needs ministry serves over 700 individuals with special needs. You can follow SOAR on Facebook: SOARSpecialNeedsMinistryAtGraceChurch or Connect with Doc on Twitter: @DocHunsley. VisitGraceChurch.com/SOAR
Ryan Wolfe is the Director of Program Development for Ability Ministry. It is Ryan's passion to equip and empower churches, organizations, and individuals to reach their disability communities for Jesus. Ryan comes to Ability Ministry with 15+ years of ministry experience. He previously worked at First Christian Church in Canton, Ohio as their full-time Disability Pastor. He also worked as a Church Consultant for Key Ministry. Ryan is an ordained Pastor. Micah 6:8 and Proverbs 31:8 best describe Ryan's commitment to life and ministry. He is available for speaking, training, and consultation.
Author and speaker, Barb Dittrich founded Snappin' Ministries, a non-profit serving parents raising children with chronic illness, disabilities, and special needs in 2002. She joined the team of Key Ministry as Director of Education in 2018. Additionally, she has worked as a citizen legislative advocate in the bleeding disorders and rare disease communities.Barb is married to her husband of over 25 years, Steve, and raises their 3 growing children.
Jonathan and his wife, Sarah, currently reside in Northeast Indiana and have been married for 16 years. He has two sons, ages 11 and 13. His journey in special needs began with the birth of their youngest son. He has his M.A. in counseling from Grace Theological Seminary and has served with Wycliffe Bible Translators for 13 years. During this time, he started and lead the staff care program for Wycliffe's affiliate, Seed Company. Jonathan and Sarah are the founders of Hope Anew, a ministry that comes alongside the parents of children impacted by special needs on a spiritual and emotional level through speaking, writing, and workshops.
Ron Sandison works full time in the medical field and is a professor of theology at Destiny School of Ministry. He is an advisory board member of Autism Society Faith Initiative of Autism Society of American and board member of The Art of Autism. Sandison has a Master of Divinity from Oral Roberts University and is the author of A Parent’s Guide to Autism: Practical Advice. Biblical Wisdom published by Charisma House. Ron and his wife, Kristen, reside in Rochester Hills, MI, with a two year old daughter, Makayla.
Sarah has her M.A. in Counseling from Grace Theological Seminary and her M.S. from Michigan State University. She served for 13 years as a missionary with Wycliffe Bible Translators. Currently, Sarah serves with her husband Jonathan as the founder of Hope Anew, guiding the parents of children impacted by special needs to Christ-centered hope and healing on a spiritual and emotional level. Sarah's most prized title is that of "Mom." She resides in Northeast Indiana, homeschooling her two sons. The youngest of whom, has his own unique needs.
Sandra is the author of Held: Learning to Live in God's Grip and the upcoming release, Unexpected Blessings: The Joys and Possibilities of Life in a Special-Needs Family. She's the co-director of special-needs ministry at her church and is the editor and social media manager for Key Ministry. You can connect with her at sandrapeoples.com
Stacy Deters is the Co-director of the Inclusion Program at Zeeland Christian Schools in Zeeland, MI. She just recently received her Master's in Autism Spectrum Disorders from Michigan State University. Stacy and her husband have two young boys. Her role includes helping to facilitate support services for students included in 1st-8th grade and most of all, she is passionate about celebrating the unique gifts that each child offers and the way God knits us together to support one another.
Marie Kuck is Co-founder of Nathaniel’s Hope, a ministry that celebrates kids with special needs (VIP kids) as well as educates and equips the local church to welcome and minister to VIP kids and families.
Marie and her husband, Tim, were introduced into the world of disability when their son Nathaniel was born with multiple special needs, requiring 24/7 care. At age 4 ½ he had a change of address from earth to heaven. Marie’s experience as Mom to Nathaniel as well as serving on church staffs in youth ministry for 10 years fuels her passion to help ordinary people overcome their fear and be intentional in their ministry. Nathaniel’s Hope is building a national Buddy Break network of churches providing FREE respite care to VIP families.
Jolene Philo is the mother of a son born with life-threatening special needs. In her twenty-five years of teaching experience, she worked with children with special needs in the classroom. She has written several books about caregiving, parenting children with special needs, and special needs inclusion ministry. She speaks at special needs parenting conferences around the country, conducts accreditation workshops for foster and adoptive parents, and trains special needs children’s ministry leaders and volunteers. Jolene blogs about special needs at DifferentDream.com. She and her husband live in Iowa.
Married for 25 years, Melanie is the mother of two young men, one of whom was born with a rare genetic disorder. Their family of four resides in sunny South Florida where Melanie passionately pursues opportunities to share God’s message of joy, hope and purpose with every special needs mom. She lives out her calling through speaking engagements, blogging at RedefineSpecial.com, missions work, and her recently published devotional titled “Bundle of Joy” which is available on Amazon
Sarah Broady is a mother passionate about encouraging parents of children with special needs. She is married to her college sweetheart, Kyle Broady, who is in ministry at their church in eastern Kentucky as the Pastor of Worship, and they have three boys. Their second son was diagnosed with autism at the age of 2, and although it turned their world upside down, God is using it for His glory in more ways they could have ever imagined. Sarah blogs about her life raising a son with autism, whom she now homeschools, at Hope in Autism, as well as Key Ministry's Special Needs Parenting blog.
Keith has been privileged to participate in the faith journeys of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities in Canada in his role with the Organizational and Spiritual Life team at Christian Horizons. He studied philosophy at a small monk-run university in Ottawa and is now completing his PhD in theology through Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam with ethicist Hans Reinders. His work explores the faith-based ethics of caregiving. Keith is a credentialed pastor with BIC Canada and lives near Ottawa, Ontario with his wife, three children and their weirdo dog, Milo. He has a passion for seeing the Church transformed by the gifts of people of diverse abilities.
Lena Hartman is Married with 3 children. She is a Member of Harvestime Apostolic Temple in Hartville Ohio. Lena is a registered nurse working between acute dialysis and the ICU. She Loves helping people to smile and feel better. Her driving force and passion is helping people, especially those of special needs to smile and feel better in the presence of God, showing them how to serve Him and accepting His salvation.
Sara Hague is a children’s pastor, happy wife, and homeschooling mother of five talented children including one on the severe end of the Autism Spectrum. She and her husband, Jason Hague, have developed a thriving special needs ministry in their local church. Sara has written curriculum and published articles in Focus on the Family Magazine, Clubhouse Jr., Christian News Northwest, and The Upper Room.
Barbara J. Newman
Barb is the Director of Church Services and Teacher Consultant for CLC Network, whose mission is to equip congregations and schools to glorify God through purposeful, innovative inclusion of persons with varied abilities. She is the author of more than 20 books and resources related to disability ministry including Accessible Gospel, Inclusive Worship.
Catherine Boyle has been impacted by mental health issues her entire life, including her own struggles with anorexia, bulimia,anxiety and depression. Catherine authored Hungry Souls: What the Bible Says About Eating Disorder, and helped launch a ministry home for women with eating disorders. In 2015, Catherine founded Outside In Ministries, focusing on how the church can minister to and with people with mental health issues.
Professionally, Catherine served as an executive at a large U.S. bank. Catherine has led various church and community ministries, and has been interviewed for her ministry work on radio, television and in online magazines. Catherine has a BBA in Accounting and an MBA from Virginia Commonwealth University.
Dr. Sherri McClurg
Dr. Sherri McClurg is the CEO of New Horizons for Children an international orphan hosting program, as well as the Managing Director of Family Center by the Falls, a mental health practice for children and adolescents. She has her doctorate in clinical psychology and worked for many years with children and adolescents who have experienced trauma, anxiety, or other concerns. In addition to working with vulnerable children, she currently serves with the John Maxwell Team on the President’s Advisory Council, speaking and training on personal growth and leadership around the world. She and her husband have been married for 20 years, and raising 3 beautiful children, one of which has profound special needs.
Lisa Jamieson is an author, speaker, and advocate who serves as executive director of Walk Right In Ministries and leads the Minnesota Disability Ministry Connection. Her children’s book, Jesus, Let’s Talk, helps all children, including early readers and people with developmental differences, to learn the basics of prayer and personal connection with Jesus. Lisa and Larry have three grown children. Their daughter, Carly, has Angelman Syndrome and lives happily with them at home in Minnesota. You can learn more about Lisa’s ministry at lisajamieson.org.
Jason Hague is a pastor and author who writes about the intersection of faith, fatherhood, and autism. He has blogged for more than five years about his relationship with his son Jackson, who is severely autistic. As the associate pastor of a mid-sized non-denominational church in the Pacific Northwest, Jason worked alongside his wife Sara (the church's children's pastor) to pioneer a flexible and inclusive model of children's ministry. His first book, "Aching Joy: Following God through the Land of Unanswered Prayer," will be released through NavPress this October. Jason lives in Junction City, Oregon with his wife and five children.
Tiffany Crow is a Behavior Analyst with a background in teaching Early Childhood and Special Education students. Since 2014 she has served as the Special Needs Coordinator at Brazos Pointe Fellowship. She has earned a Master Degree in Behavior Analysis from the University of Houston-Clear Lake and a Bachelor Degree in Early Childhood Education from Lamar University. She resides in Lake Jackson, TX with her husband Toby and two young daughters. Tiffany is passionate about the population she feels called to serve and believes that every life should be celebrated as a part of God’s perfectly planned design.
Jillian Palmiotto is the Director of the Unlimited* Special Needs Ministry at Mount Paran Church in Atlanta, GA. The ministry serves over 140 families. In 2016, Mount Paran began hosting the Together Conference that is designed to equip ministry leaders to begin or improve their special needs ministries. Jillian has a passion for training church leaders and volunteers, and she loves serving the families God has given to her.
John Felageller lives in Northbrook, IL with his wife Elizabeth and their son Christopher (ASD), and is currently a Second Grade Teacher at a Charter school in North Chicago, IL. John's family has been extremely blessed by all the faith based outreach that they have experienced, both from their own churches and through many organizations, including Joni and Friends. John and his family are continually seeking to lift up other Special Needs Families as well, from creating their own Life Group at their church for Special Needs Parents to hosting a monthly support meetup for just the Dads. John began writing professionally for a Faith-based Special Needs Blog in 2017, and is now proud to be a member of the Key Ministry Not Alone writing team, and sees his writing as not just a hobby but also something he seeks to use as an outlet for parents (especially dads!) to find comfort.
Mona Fuerstenau is a disability advocate with over 30 years in the field. She speaks across the country working to engage and equip communities for meaningful participation by those with disability. She came to her current position as Director of Ministry Partnerships with Bethesda Lutheran Communities by way of her passion for sharing Jesus, her enthusiasm for Asset Based Community Development, her work as a retired Speech language Pathologist and as the parent of two young adult diverse learners.
Beth has been the Ministry Coordinator for Key Ministry since 2016. In addition to her role with Key, Beth serves as the special needs ministry director at Bay Presbyterian Church in suburban Cleveland. She has a passion for connecting people to resources through networking, relationship building, and social media. Beth and her husband, Rich, are the parents of three teenage boys.
Dr. Steve Grcevich
Dr. G is the founder of Key Ministry and author of Mental Health and the Church. He will be leading a workshop on Friday on Mental Health and the Church. He will deliver a key note address on "The Values That Shape Our Movement." And he will present a Saturday workshop on "Helping Your Child or Teen with Mental Health Issues to Grow Spiritually."
Tory White, church services coordinator at CLC Network, has been involved in education and ministry for over twenty years. Tory has written curriculum for her church's children's ministry, as well as for Friendship Ministries’ adult inclusive Bible study, TOGETHER. She has edited several books, including CLC Network's latest publication, Accessible Gospel, Inclusive Worship. Tory brings her experience in homeschooling, a degree in education, a decade of supporting inclusion at Zeeland Christian School, and victory over a debilitating chronic illness to serve families and churches in their efforts to include individuals of all abilities with excellence.
Pastor Brad Hoefs is the senior pastor of Community of Grace church in Elkhorn, Nebraska. Pastor Brad graduated from Concordia University in Seward, Nebraska, with a bachelor’s degree in communications in 1979. He also graduated from Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, Missouri, with a Masters of Divinity in 1985. Rev. Hoefs was diagnosed in 1995 as suffering from Bipolar Disorder as a result of experiencing the very painful side of undiagnosed manic behavior. In return, he and his family experienced the pain and hurt that churches and Christians can cause because of a lack of understanding and unwillingness to understand. It is out of this experience that Pastor Brad and Community of Grace have started Fresh Hope, which is a network of Christ-centered support groups for those who suffer from mood disorders as well as their loved ones. Pastor Hoefs is also the author of the book, Fresh Hope: Living Well in Spite of a Mental Health Diagnosis.