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 HeadlinesPlacerGROWN Farmers' Markets Opening for Summer SeasonRoseville, CA- Four seasonal PlacerGROWN Farmers' Markets are opening for the 2016 summer season, providing a plethora of produce options for residents of Placer County
Roseville Flash Crime Report (5.3.16)Roseville, CA- Flash crime report digest summary update for Roseville, CA on May 2, 2016.
Chrysler 200: Improved and solid midsize sedanRoseville, CA- Looking to make a move upward and become more of a challenger to its competitors, the folks at Chrysler completely redesigned the Chrysler 200
Roseville Gas Prices Up and DownRoseville, CA- Gas prices in Roseville and the region have trended upward this past week. However, at some of low price leaders in Roseville
Creating More Inclusive Zoos and MuseumsNot long last week after featuring a 35-year-old man named "Tony" (a pseudonym), who became legally blind at birth due to retinopathy of prematurity (ROP),
Marijuana Cultivation Discussion at Roseville City Council MeetingRoseville, CA- At the May 4th Roseville City Council Meeting, representatives from Placer County will provide an opportunity for the public to provide input on Placer County's current efforts
BIG Day of Giving is TodayRoseville, CA- BIG Day of Giving has begun. All day today, from midnight to midnight, you can visit www.bigdayofgiving.org
Placer Land Trust Acquires 40 Acres along North Fork of American RiverPlacer Land Trust is very pleased to announce that in early April it acquired 40 acres of gorgeous land along the North Fork American River at the bottom of the Green Valley Trail.
$20 Pet Adoptions at Placer County's Auburn ShelterFacing a spring surplus of rescue pets - and in celebration of National Adopt a Shelter Pet Day April 30 - Placer County's Auburn animal services center will lower adoption fees
Roseville Man Arrested for Child Molestation in Bay AreaJames McNealy Carroll, a 64 year-old Roseville resident has been arrested for six counts of child molestation.
Vacancies: Mental Health, Alcohol and Drug Advisory BoardThe Placer County Mental Health, Alcohol and Drug Advisory Board is in need of additional community members to fill vacant seats.
Distance Language Intervention and Disabilities CommunicationSean Sawicki, who has fragile X syndrome, can be hard to understand and doesn't always have the attention span to carry on a sustained conversation
NEWS: In Case You Missed It