Archive for February, 2012

One of the greatest joys of working with Northland over the years has been to sit under the leadership of our Pastor Joel Hunter. Joel is passionate about Jesus and about people collaborating for the expansion of the Kingdom of God. When I think about Pastor Joel, I think of his as an inclusionist! He has the ability to reach across borders to people and groups who normally are not included in Christian community, those with disability and different faiths are welcome.

Northland Church is honored to host an information presentation for the just published book, Amazing Gifts. Mark Pinsky will be joined by a panel of special guests from across Central Florida, whose stories are included within this remarkable interfaith book. Together, they will share insights discovered along the way on how including those with disabilities within the life of a congregation ends up benefitting and blessing us all.
Amazing Gifts is the Alban Institute’s newest publication, authored by one of the nation’s premiere religious writers, Mark Pinsky. Throughout the book, Mr. Pinsky shares stories of everyday people from across the country, from places of worship of all sizes, and from congregations of all faiths, which convey the message: Including people with disabilities is not difficult – with thoughtful planning we can successfully include all of God’s people. In practical yet inspirational ways, each story provides helpful perspectives on how to better welcome everyone into the house of God. For as Mr. Pinsky found during his time spent with persons presented in the book, “Learning how to recognize the gifts and talents of children and adults with disabilities can transform congregations and their leaders.”
The panel discussion on the book Amazing Gifts is open to all media, special guests, and those interested in learning more about building upon your own congregation’s efforts towards welcome and inclusion. The presentation is Saturday afternoon, March 3, from 3:00-4:15 p.m., at Northland Church’s Main Worship Center at the Longwood Campus (Room 4209). At this free event, with light refreshments included, you will:
Receive a first-hand overview of the book from the author and heart-touching insights from the panelists;
Have the opportunity to meet the author, Mark Pinsky, and panelists whose stories are found in the book, Amazing Gifts;
Visit with others in from Central Florida’s interfaith community interested in or already including persons with disabilities at their worship sites;
Be able to purchase a copy of Amazing Gifts and have it autographed afterwards.
Be welcomed to attend Northland Church’s 5:00 p.m. worship service as special guests, just after the presentation.


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Sometimes it is easy to get all spiritual and say I don’t have any Heroes! I have people I admire, love and long to be mentored by, but Heroes, that is another story, after all, there is a fine line between making someone a hero and an idol!
As a disenfranchised teen-ager there were few people I looked up to or even wanted to emulate, and there was no one with a disability I wanted to be like. As a junior or senior in high school, I read and then saw the movie Joni. For those of you who do not know the story of Joni, Joni, an active, sports loving teen-ager had a diving active which left her a quadriplegic, depending on others for almost all of her daily living. In this book it is Joni’s quest for significance, which ultimately she finds in Jesus. Joni begins to see disability honors God. As a teen-ager, I hung to Joni’s story, one day, I will be like Joni.

Over the years, I have heard Joni speak on many occasions, read her books and followed what the ministry she established has accomplished throughout the United States and the World.
Joni, has been back in the Orlando area the last few days and I have been able to reflect again on who Joni is and the legacy she and her husband Ken are going to leave when they move on to glory. As a full-time church worker working with those in the disability community, I am thankful she was a forerunner, who pushed church doors open, so more people with disability could find a personal relationship with the one who gives us significance and a faith community who will support the needs many families have.
I can honestly say, Joni is one of my Heroes and when I grow up, I want to be like Joni, full of grace, love and passion.

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