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.
Print This Article
Placer County News HeadlinesChronic Fatigue Syndrome Often Not BelievedChronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), also called Chronic Fatigue Immune Dysfunction Syndrome, had Carl Miller and his doctors, completely baffled for a long while.
Lexus LX570 SUV: Big, Attractive and SafeWhat most drivers will like about the Lexus LX570 is the combination of gracious around-town capability and its ability to go off-road in rugged winter conditions
Can You Get a Mortgage?Realtor, Julie Jalone, of MagnumOne Realty in Roseville, writes about a the current mortgage underwriting environment, how it is perceived buy potential home buyers and what lenders should do to accelerate the housing recovery here in Sacramento and across the country.
Santa to Visit Roseville Neighborhoods ScheduleRoseville, CA - After talking with Santa, he was able to work some time in his schedule to visit six Roseville neighborhoods this year before the holidays
Holiday Ice Rink in Roseville at GalleriaThe outdoor Bayside Ice Rink at the Westfield Galleria at Roseville is now open for the holiday season.
Rocklin Gets Ready for Santa VisitRocklin, CA -- Once again this year Santa Claus has requested the assistance of the Rocklin firefighters in escorting him through the local non-gated neighborhoods of Rocklin
Old Sacramento Holiday Theatre of LightsKnown as a magical, electrifying and family-friendly holiday tradition in Old Sacramento, the ever-popular and FREE Theatre of Lights performances return on Wednesday
Thanksgiving Fire Safety TipsCooking is, and has long been, the leading cause of home structure fires and home fire injuries, and according to the
Immigration Executive Action: Republicans and DemocratsAnother stark contrast of opposing sides on Obama's Executive Action on Immigration, highlighted by two Republican Congressman Tom McClintock's remarks and the California Democratic Party
PCWA Moves Forward on Watershed RemediationIn the aftermath of the massive King Fire, the Placer County Water Agency is taking emergency steps to prevent and manage the runoff of fire debris and erosion into the
Holiday Flu Could Be Grinch This YearWith Thanksgiving nearing and the holiday season upon us, many people will be hitting the malls for shopping, the airways for travel, and interacting with large groups of people
Placer County Honors Citizens with Commemorative CoinsThe Placer County Board of Supervisors honored Dr. Bryce Jessup of William Jessup University and volunteer extraordinaire Fuzzy Jarnagin of Loomis Tuesday, presenting them with