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 Headlines$5.2 Billion in New Transportation Taxes for California ResidentsCalifornia finally passes a long awaited transportation funding bill May 2017. The California Legislature just passed a new Transportation Funding Bill
Wine Adventures Crushes It with Feast for the SensesPlacerville, CA- Wineries in this part of California know how to throw a great party.
Roseville Gas Prices Leaderboard Shifts SlightlyRoseville, CA- Gas prices remained relatively flat this past week in Roseville. Sam's Club nudged Costco from atop the low price leaderboard
Walgreen Co. Pays $9.86M to Settle Allegations of Improper Medi Cal BillingsWalgreens has paid $9.86 million to resolve allegations that it violated the federal False Claims Act
BottleRock Napa Valley 2017 Williams Sonoma Culinary Stage LineupNAPA, CA, -- Situated in the heart of America's wine and food playground, BottleRock Napa Valley, presented by JaM Cellars, has announced that Martha Stewart, José Andrés and Masaharu Morimoto
Lincoln's Community Christian School RelocatingLINCOLN - Lincoln's Community Christian School, which has been serving the community since 1995, announced today that it will be moving for the 2017-18 school year to a new location
2017 Subaru Impreza: Still very impressiveRoseville, CA-The Impreza has been a strong seller for Subaru for years. Offered in hatchback or sedan mode, Impreza sales lean 60 percent toward the hatchback model, which was test driven here
Students to Bring History to Life May 6-7Rocklin, CA - The National History Day - California (NHD-CA) competition returns to William Jessup University (WJU) in Rocklin on May 6-7 for the third consecutive year
Robert M. Maxey Leaves Legacy of Service and LoveRobert M. Maxey, whose ministry to young people throughout the Greater Sacramento area touched thousands of lives over the last two decades
Roseville Flash Crime Report (4.21.17)Roseville, CA- Digest summary update of select crimes for Roseville Police activity for the period covering April 14- 21, 2017.
Northern California's Wettest Year on RecordAt its April 20 meeting, the Placer County Water Agency (PCWA) Board of Directors received news that April showers have boosted Northern California
Jeffrey Zahniser, SCOE's 2018 Teacher of the YearSacramento, CA- Culinary Arts instructor Jeffrey Zahniser walked into school today fully prepared to teach his students another lesson about the art of cooking
NEWS: In Case You Missed It