Sophia Nicholls:Sophia is co-founder of ASNA, a Christian charity providing support for people living with disabilities, and also awareness training. She is responsible for developing policy in disability ministry in the Seventh Day Adventist Church. One of her sons has severe learning disabilities.
Michael Sharkey: Michael is a 29-year-old physiotherapist living in Hillingdon. For the last 13 years he has represented Great Britain at Goalball, an exciting, fast-paced sport for visually impaired people. Michael says, ‘I am very proud to have competed at the London 2012 Paralympic games. More importantly though, I am a believer in Christ and I attend Crown Church in Uxbridge. I am passionate about sharing what great things God has done in my life and I love to challenge churches as they reach out to people with a disability.’
James Bowden:James Bowden is a visually impaired computer programmer with Dolphin Computer Access Ltd. He also works for the UK Association for Accessible Formats (UKAAF), specialising in braille. He is a musician, regularly leads worship and has produced a CD.
Rt Revd Clive Gregory:He was educated at Queens’ College, Cambridge. Ordained in 1988, he began his career with a curacy at St John the Baptist, Margate, after which he was a senior chaplain at the University of Warwick, and (before his elevation to the episcopate) Team Rector of Coventry East. A keen cricketer, Bishop Clive is married to Jenny, and they have two young children.
Joni Eareckson Tada:Joni is an international advocate for people with disabilities. A diving accident in 1967 left her, then 17, a quadriplegic in a wheelchair. After two years of rehabilitation, she emerged with new skills and a fresh determination to help others in similar situations. She founded Joni and Friends in 1979 to provide Christ-centred programs to additional-needs families, as well as training to churches. Joni and Friends serves thousands of special-needs families through family retreats, and has delivered over 100,000 wheelchairs and Bibles to needy disabled persons in developing nations. Joni’s lifelong passion is to bring the gospel to the world’s one billion people with disabilities.
Roy McCloughry: Roy is the National Disability Adviser to the Church of England and Vice President of Livability. He is the author of over a dozen books, most recently, The Enabled Life (SPCK).Roy lectures in Ethics at St John’s College, Nottingham, and is chair of publishers Lion Hudson. He has lived with epilepsy all his life.
Revd Canon Gill Behenna:Gill was appointed last year as National Adviser for Deaf Ministry to the Church of England. Currently she is chaplain with the Deaf community in the Diocese of Bristol. She is a trustee of Go! Sign and also works as a volunteer for Signs of God, a Christian training organisation.
Revd Prof John Swinton: John lectures at Aberdeen University. He is an ordained minister of the Church of Scotland who has worked as a registered nurse specialising in psychiatry and learning disabilities and has been a hospital chaplain. He has published extensively on practical theology, pastoral care, mental health studies, disability theology, dementia and nursing.
Randy Lewis: Before retiring in 2013 as Senior Vice President, Randy led Walgreens’ logistics division for sixteen years as the chain grew from 1,500 to 8,000 stores with the most advanced logistics network in its industry. Over the past year, he has developed the ‘NOGWOG’ Disability Initiative as an effective, low-cost and sustainable disability-hiring model for employers. It provides employers with the qualified candidates they need and people with disabilities the opportunities they seek. This is the subject of his new book No Greatness Without Goodness (published 15 May by Lion Hudson). Randy has been an active member of a local Episcopal (Anglican) church all his adult life.
Revd Jonathan Edwards: Baptist minister and previously General Secretary of the Baptist Union of Great Britain, Jonathan was last year appointed Executive Ambassador for Prospects, a Christian organisation working with people with learning disabilities. Jonathan’s son Tom has an autistic spectrum condition.
Disability: Beyond Inclusion
Cristina Gangemi:Cristina holds a Master’s Degree in Theology and Disability. With Prof John Swinton, she is Co-Director of The Kairos Forum, fostering communities of belonging for people with intellectual disability. She is a National Disability Advisor to the Catholic Bishops of England and Wales.
Ann Memmott:Ann is an autistic person and adviser to the All Party Parliamentary Group for Autism. Her work informs the House of Parliament disability team, the Church of England, Churches for All and many other national groups and organisations.
Haydon Spenceley:Haydon is an ordinand in the Church of England and has cerebral palsy. He has an MA in Disability Studies from Leeds University, speaks on disability issues and has a keen interest in the importance of identity in the life of believers, impaired or not.
Jonathan Edwards:(see Plenary Speakers)
Dementia, Ageing and onset of disability
Louise Morse:Louise is a psychotherapist who takes a ‘biblically attuned approach’ to issues of elderly care and wellbeing. She is Communications Manager for Pilgrim Friends Society (Pilgrim Homes) and author of books on dementia.
Dr K Jennifer Bute:Jennifer worked as a GP for 30 years, after working in a mission hospital in Zululand. She was diagnosed with dementia in 2009, which she describes as ‘an unexpected gift from God, a privilege and glorious opportunity’.
Trevor Adams: Trevor is a dementia specialist, author, international speaker, academic and nurse with over 30 years’ experience in dementia care. He works with Livability on the Dementia Friendly Churches project.
Dr Gordon Temple: Gordon serves as Chief Executive of the Torch Trust, a Christian organisation working with people with sight loss. He is Executive Officer for the Churches for All network. Gordon is the author of Enabling Church, published by SPCK in 2012. His current focus is the pastoral care of those experiencing the onset of disability.
Revd Dr Helen Wordsworth: Helen is a Baptist minister and CEO for Parish Nursing Ministries UK. Before theological training she was a nurse, midwife, and health visitor tutor, and these skills have come together as she has co-founded and developed this national organisation helping local churches engage with whole-person health. Her father suffered from dementia for ten years and died in 2010.
John Swinton:(see Plenary Speakers)
Deaf stream: in British Sign Language
Coordinator: Gill Behenna
Laurence Banks:Laurence is the Ministry Director of Go! Sign and is well known in the Deaf community internationally as a preacher and teacher. He says: ‘My aim is for the gospel to be more accessible and clear for Deaf people’.
Susan Myatt: Susan is Deaf and uses BSL. She is training for ordained ministry in the Baptist denomination and we will be asking her about the joys and challenges of her work.
Gill Behenna: (see Plenary Speakers)
Families and carers:
in partnership with Care for the Family
Beth Mellor:Beth jointly coordinates Care for the Family’s Additional Needs Parent Support network. Beth has three grown-up children, including one with additional needs.
Mark Arnold:Mark is Chief Operating Officer for Urban Saints and has a vision to see children and young people with additional needs fully included in what the Church offers and what God wants to release through it.
Pippa Ankers: Pippa is a mum of three children in their twenties and grandma of one. Her younger son has Down’s Syndrome. Living in Rotherham, she works for Care for the Family and loves training people to run its accredited parenting courses as well as delivering the courses herself with local volunteers in her own community.
Kay Morgan-Gurr: Kay was a children’s nurse until God called her into full time children’s work over 20 years ago. She’s been part of Children Worldwide for over 17 years. Kay also does consultancy and training on working with children who have disabilities and additional needs. She is the additional needs and disability advisor to Spring Harvest. She is also one of the executive committee behind Children Matter, writes for Children’s Work magazine and is one of the founders of the Additional Needs Alliance.
Hilary Beard: Hilary is married with three adult children and has worked with families for over 35 years. She is passionate about family life and is currently the Training Manager for Care for the Family. She and her team deliver training across the UK and the Isle of Man for people whose desire is to support parents to build better family lives and improve outcomes for their children.