Disability & Special Needs Ministry

June/July 2019

That All May Worship


10 Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; 11 not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; 12 rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer; 13 distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality (Romans 12:10-13).

23 And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, 24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ. 25 But he who does wrong will be repaid for what he has done, and there is no partiality (Colossians 3:23-25).

“Welcome to the Eight (8th) edition of the of Gulf States Conference (GSC) “Disability & Special Needs Ministry Newsletter”. We hope these newsletters inspire you to contact us and schedule a “Disability & Special Needs Day” in your church. We provide professional presentation & training for our programs and seminars.

Although each edition of our newsletter may cover a specific disability area, we will continue to address outstanding inquiries and concerns as they develop.

Because disability categories can be complex, we will not endeavor to provide analytical information. We will provide up-to-date information on related events and snapshot information on the seven (7) major disability categories.

Because this a relatively new ministry in GSC, we will concentrate the remainder of 2019 and the 1st half of 2020 to provide training for Pastors, department heads, and members. Selective churches will host these sessions, and our plan is to have them live-streamed so that the busier pastors can still participate.


Larry Evans, our General Conference Director for Special Needs & Disability Ministry, is encouraging the modification of our seven (7) major disability categories to include additional categories that have been overlooked.







Speech Language



The Blind

The Deaf



Orphans & Vulnerable Children



The last three (3) are areas that have been personally experienced by many of us. Consequently, the coming months will be filled interacting with our General Conference (GC), North American Division (NAD), & Southern Union Conference (SUC) directors on defining, and implementing these changes.



We have all seen the person without a disability parking in the ADA disability parking spaces at one point or another; whether it was for them to just run to the Redbox (DVD Quick Rentals), or while waiting for someone to run in and out of the store. Anyone who has experienced this situation knows how frustrating it can be to see people without disabilities or those who “appear” to not have a disability, using the accessible parking. Never park in a space reserved for people with disabilities UNLESS you have a permit, placard or handicapped parking plates. It’s not only the courteous thing to do—it’s the law!


It is easy to look a person who is not using a cane, walker, wheelchair, or other assistive devices, but parked in the accessible spot and presume that they should not be parked there. There are chronic conditions and/or invisible disabilities that qualify. Don’t judge by appearances.


Some spaces are labeled “van accessible” with access lanes marked on either side of the lane. As a handicap van user, I find this to be one of the most frequently violated provisions of handicap parking. If you do not need to park in a “van accessible” space and other accessible parking is available, please leave van accessible spaces open for vehicles equipped with wheelchair lifts. Vans with rear-mounted lifts can use the regular handicap spaces. However, those with side-equipped lifts need the extra-wide “96” inch spaces. (See Below)

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Violations have become so prevalent that Alabama has strengthened its regulation of handicap parking spaces via State Accessible Parking Bill HB 140, Act 2018-458. It not only increases fines for violators, but requires an increase in the number of “van-accessible” spaces required. We as Christians, certainly should not need state or federal regulations to encourage us to be more Christ-like.


These areas have been marked to provide extra space for those using wheelchair lifts and/or assistive devices to get in and out of their vehicle.

TRANSPORTATION NOTICE (Huntsville, Alabama only)

The city of Huntsville, Alabama recently announced that it will be adding Saturday service from 7 am – 7 pm, and extending weekly hours until 9 pm. This is definitely a point of interest to Sabbath worshippers. The start date for Phase (1) is July 1, 2019, with additional phases/routes in the near future.


GSC’s first live-streamed program will be on Sabbath, November 2, 2019 at Community Seventh-day Adventist Church (Meridian First SDA Church), 6258 Highway 39 N, Meridian MS. 39305-9113, Samuel Riemersma, Senior Pastor.

Our special guest speaker for Divine Worship will be none other than Larry Evans, Assistant to the President of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, for Special Needs & Disabilities Ministries. He will concentrate on “Mental Impairments” emphasizing the growing “ADHD/Asperger’s” dilemma.

Published by

George Hamilton

Assistant Disability Ministry Director

Gulf States Conference of Seventh-day Adventists


Memo from Disability Ministries Director

I'm looking forward to working with each Church in the Gulf States Conference to become even more aware of the opportunities that can be experienced when accommodating members and visitors who have special needs. Much of Christ's ministry was to the persons who meet the criteria for the 7 categories mentioned above. Jesus sought those who needed help and healed them. What an opportunity we have as churches to minister to those who have special needs - and to empower and equip them to carry out the Gospel Commission.

Thank you, George, for putting these newsletters together and for assisting Gulf States Conference as we increase this ministry presence in our conference. God has called us to love one another, to bear one another's burdens, to find the lost sheep, etc. God wants us to be involved with people.

I look forward to being invited to your church someday soon, so we can assist you and your fellow members how to enhance your church's ministry to those with special needs -- together we can make a difference, touch lives, and be builders of His kingdom!

Martin Fancher,

Disabilities Director, GSC

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Possibilities Ministry: Aspergers, ADHD, and Autism Spectrum

Saturday, Nov. 2nd, 9:30am-4pm

6258 Highway 39 N, Meridian, Mississippi 39305

Join Larry R Evans, DMin, Assistant to the President - Special Needs Ministries, General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, as he shares how we are all created in the image of God regardless of our limitations. You are a possibility.

How can we best reach and teach those with Aspergers, ADHD, or are on the Autism Spectrum? Come and learn with us.

Reid Soria - "Autism Sings" - will have a spiritual concert in the afternoon, and his mother will share what it was like raising a child on the Autism Spectrum.

For more information: https://www.facebook.com/events/632892733858580/

Disabilities & Special Needs Ministry Goals

Support pastors and local church disabilities ministry coordinators in setting up programs to improve in the including people with disabilities in worship, work, service and leadership, and provide current information and resources on disability related issues for church leaders.
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