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Supporting People Living With Special Needs and Disabilities ~ Connecting people, Changing lives…

ASNA & BUC Joint National Disability Ministry Conference 2014

Mission to the Cities 2: Equipping for change

In his opening presentation Nigel Nicholls, the chair of ASNA welcomed the delegates and reminded them that they were on a journey 'not from the east or west and north or south but the journey of the heart'. He paid tribute to the fact that God can bring good out of what had been a seemingly negative experience and as a direct result ASNA had been born.

Following Nigel’s  opening welcome, Sharon Platt McDonald (BUC Disability Ministry Director) introduced Pastor Ian Sweeney (President of the British Union Conference of the Seventh Day Adventist church) who due to a prior engagement could not be present so had prepared an opening welcome via video.

Listen to the video welcome address by Pastor Ian Sweeney, President of the British Union Conference of the Seventh Day Adventist church as he speaks to the delegates during the 7th National Disability Ministry Conference 2014 held at the Watford Hilton Hotel, Watford. Over 70 delegates attended this wonderfully inspiring event. Stories shared, journeys taken and many friends made. Pastor Sweeney reminded the delegates that the churches in the BUC were not full until all had heard about the love of Christ no matter the ability.

Opening worship presentations was given by Pastor Terry Messenger , SEC Executive Secretary and keen supporter of the ministry . Disability Ministry Coordinators across the UK, enabled good practice to be shared; discussions and observations encouraged delegates to examine attitudes and long held opinions. One parent of an adult with disabilities and a member of the Reading SDA Church community project - Helping Hands expressed how much she felt blessed to be attending the conference. 'I would never have thought I would be saying to my work colleagues that I will be attending a Christian conference on Disability at the weekend!" The Helping Hands project members led by Paul Thompson from Reading Central church, demonstrated their multi sensory ministry using accessible strategies to engage all the senses through which the bible and its truths can be taught.

Carmen Dublin introduces Jacyntha to the delegates

Carmen Dublin introduces Jacyntha to the delegates who shares her experience of coming to faith through the Disability Ministry in the High Wycombe SDA church

Bro. Sydney Bacchus shares Ministry in the NEC

Sharing good practice

Carmen Dublin, Disability Ministry Coordinator based in High Wycombe expressed how much she enjoyed the day.' I am so glad I came today. 'I have learnt so much' . 'A lot to use in my ministry'. Carmen spoke to the delegation about the ministry she started in her local church as a result of  training from ASNA and the SEC Disability Ministry department. As well as starting a Carers Support group and drop in facility at the High Wycombe SDA Church, Carmen celebrated the baptism of 3 members from the community into her church family as a result of the Disability project. 'There is so much we can do in the community to bring people to Christ' says Carmen 'we just need to be willing to be used by Christ'.

MIchael Sharkey Speaks at disability Conference 2014

Michael Sharkey speaks at Disability Conference 2014

Guest speakers Michael Starkey and Joy Ani related their personal journeys. Michael expressed  how he had come to see blindness as a blessing. 'When I look back at the young 16 year old Michael (himself), I can see where God has led me from and where he has placed me now" said Michael. He spoke about the achievements in his life and how he has not only became a well established Goal Ball player for the Paralympian 12 games and a professional physiotherapist, but found love in his marriage to Nicola who is also blind.

Joy Ani shares her story

Joy Ani tells her story at the National Disability Ministry conference 2014

Joy Ani, author and Christian teacher described her feeling when she realised that she could not hear the voices of her friends and family at the end of a telephone line. She spoke about  how this experience led her to develop a ministry for people living with deafness and to write a useful book about her experience. Joy related how she had come to accept the disability and 'move on'. She is using her God given talents to bless others and bring about a change in attitudes through her ministry.

The morning and afternoon workshops included Mental illness led by Grace Walsh (NEC Health, Community Services and Disability Ministry Director), Accessible church led by Lorraine Ward (Access Officer based in Manchester working for the Council), Supporting Carers led by Sophia Nicholls (MA Education  - Disability and Inclusion / SEC Disability Ministry Director / ASNA Trustee and a Carer) Deaf awareness led by Sign Ministries and Supporting people who are blind or visually impaired led by Dr Gordon Temple (CEO Torch Trust & Michael & Nicola Sharkey). Positive comments from delegate about workshops and plenary sessions included: Inspiring , informative, challenging, motivational, eye opening.

Delegates at the National Disability COnference 2014

Delegates at the conference

Sophia Nicholls shares her experience as a Carers and trustee of local Carers Centre

Sophia Nicholls shares her experience as a Carers and trustee of local Carers Centre

Delighted delegates

Delighted delegates


Supporting People who are blind or Visually impaired

Supporting People who are blind or Visually impaired

Sharon Platt McDonald (BUC Health, Womens Ministry and Disability Ministry Director) closed the proceedings with words of encouragements. She described the day as one that could bring about changes across the BUC as the church aims to bring the message of Salvation through the Mission to the Cities project.

ASNA and the BUC would like to thank all the volunteers, BSL signers and supporters who helped to make the day a success. A picture gallery can be found on the ASNA facebook page. https://www.facebook.com/pages/ASNA/139643056122030?ref=bookmarks

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