Christian Denomination Has 625 Disability Advocates
Mark Stephenson's daughter Nicole was born 25 years ago with severe multiple disabilities, including eye and brain damage, and cerebral palsy. Then six years ago, Stephenson's mother, now 92, entered an assisted living facility because of dementia.
It was these experiences and others that helped prepare him for his current position as director of Disability Concerns with the Christian Reformed Church in North America.
The 54-year-old Stephenson said, "When Nicole was born, I wasn't thinking. I was feeling. And I was terrified. She was born prematurely at 26 weeks. She was so tiny, hardly breathing, and we were in a hospital with medical personnel all around. She was put on a triage table to warm her and was intubated immediately." His daughter wasn't allowed home for nearly seven months.
He said, "When meeting her today, new people know right away she lives with various disabilities because she doesn't speak or walk independently. But when taking time to know her, people learn she has a joyful personality. I like to say she lives joyfully with multiple severe disabilities."
Nicole has lived in a group home the last seven years. Though nonverbal, she understands speech and communicates her own way. For example, a couple weeks ago in church, said Stephenson, a particularly joyful hymn was playing. Nicole raised her arm in the air and shouted, "Woo, woo!"
"And after she moved to the group home," he continued, "the staff began praying with her at night. Most nights, when they finish praying, she will put her arm up and stroke the cheek of the person offering the prayer."
Stephenson said having Nicole as his daughter, in many respects, has become his and his wife's identity. He was trained as a pastor and served congregations for 17 years, but has served the last six as director of Disability Concerns for his 300,000-member denomination. His wife was trained as a secondary education teacher and has spent the last twelve years teaching special education.
In part, he spends his time overseeing 625 disability advocates that help churches in his denomination engage people with disabilities and include them in church life. Stephenson oversees a Facebook page, blog, newsletters, and conferences. He does some projects in conjunction with the Reformed Church in America.
Finally, he likes seeing church buildings become more accessible, but becomes even more excited seeing attitudes about people with disabilities change.
Pet Care | Real Estate | Restaurants | Tech | View All | * Add/Upgrade Business
Placer County News HeadlinesRingling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Shutting Down the CircusRoseville, CA- Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey, the colorful icon of traveling circus entertainment is packing up the tent following a rich and storied history that dates back to the 1800's.
Grand Opening Festivities at McBean Stadium January 21LINCOLN, Calif. - The revitalization effort of McBean Stadium is the result of a joint partnership between the City of Lincoln and William Jessup University
American Pickers to Film in CaliforniaRoseville, CA- Mike Wolfe, Frank Fritz, and their team are excited to return to California. They plan to film episodes of the hit series American Pickers
New California Laws 2017 (Part 14)Roseville, CA - New California laws for 2017. Part 14 includes 101 new laws including marriage, CalWORKS, teacher credentials. rental vehicles, foster care, student loans, social services
Flood Repairs: Avoid Unlicensed & Unscrupulous ContractorsAs property owners look to make repairs this weekend after a series of severe storms pounded northern California, the Contractors State License Board
Roseville, Lincoln to Host Public Meetings on Groundwater ManagementRoseville, CA- Placer County, the cities of Roseville and Lincoln, Placer County Water Agency and with participation from California American Water
HPV Vaccine is Cancer Prevention asserts Pediatric ChiefRecognizing a critical need to improve national vaccination rates for the human papillomavirus (HPV), UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center has again united
4th Annual It's in the Bag Event at Blue Goose(LOOMIS, CA) - Soroptimist International of Loomis Basin will host the fourth annual "It's in the Bag" designer purse event on Wednesday, January 25, 2017
Massive Snowstorm generates Lake Tahoe Safety AssessmentDue to ongoing power outages and damage caused by extreme winter conditions on Lake Tahoe's West Shore, Placer County Office of Emergency Services, Placer County Sheriff's Office
Free Spay and Neuter for Cats in Placer CountyNow, through the end of February, spay and neuter surgeries will be available for Placer County cats, free of charge.
Placer County Homeless Shelter Zoning Options ExpandedAUBURN, Calif. -- Placer County will have more options now when seeking locations for homeless shelters for temporary, emergency stays after the county board of supervisors
Emergency Shelter Beds for Children and Foster YouthAUBURN, Calif. -- The Placer County Board of Supervisors recently voted to approve an agreement between the county Health and Human Services department and Children's Receiving Home
NEWS: In Case You Missed It