• Book Talk

    Book Talk

    Cynthia Tam

    Cynthia is an ordained minister and the national coordinator for disability ministries with the Alliance Canada. Since graduating from the University of Aberdeen with a Ph.D. in Theology, she has been involved in teaching at various universities as an instructor. Cynthia is also currently a research fellow at McMaster Divinity College.

    Cynthia’s book, Kinship in the Household of God, looks at belonging of all people as God’s family, from the perspectives of people with profound autism. She argues that Christian relationship is kinship. When we call each other sisters and brothers, we recognize that each sibling is a gift of God. We cannot choose our siblings. We receive each one God brings to the family, autism or not, as a beloved sibling.

    Keith Dow

    Keith lives near Ottawa, serving as Manager of Organizational and Spiritual Life with Karis Disability Services (karis.org). He is the author of Formed Together: Mystery, Narrative, and Virtue in Christian Caregiving (Baylor, 2021) based on his PhD work through Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam. Dr. Dow is a credentialed pastor with BIC Canada for his role with Karis Disability Services, where he supports the spiritual health of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and equips churches to be more accessible and hospitable.

    In Formed Together, Keith explores the questions of why we should, and why we do, care for one another. He considers what it means for human beings to be interdependent, created in the image of a loving God. Dow recounts personal experiences of supporting people with intellectual disabilities while drawing upon theological and philosophical sources to discover the ethical underpinnings of Christian care.

    Amy Panton

    Amy (she/they) is a Mad theologian and theology nerd. They are the founder and Editor of the Mad & Crip Theology Press, co-editor of The Canadian Journal of Theology, Mental Health and Disability, and co-host of the Mad & Crip Theology Podcast. Amy teaches about neurodiversity, disability and mental health at Emmanuel College in Toronto. She recently graduated from Emmanuel with a PhD in Practical Theology and her dissertation research explores how faith communities can provide care for young people who self-injure.

    Amy will talk about her work with the Mad & Crip Theology Press, and the Press’ journal The Canadian Journal of Theology, Mental Health and Disability. Both of these projects aim to amplify the voices of disabled, mad and crip folks.

  • Practical Workshops
    Disability and Belonging in the Church
    Jasmine Duckworth

    Each person is loved by God and deserves to belong, so how do we ensure that our spaces and communities are welcoming to all, including people with disabilities?

    In this workshop we will establish definitions and foundational knowledge about disability, introduce some concepts from disability theology, and look to the example of Jesus for three practical ways to nurture communities of belonging for all.

    Jasmine Duckworth has been serving with Karis Disability Services (formerly Christian Horizons) since 2004 and has been disabled herself since 2015. As part of her role as Community Development Manager she often speaks with churches and community groups about disability, accessibility, and ableism. She works closely with self-advocates as they work to improve Karis Disability Services, the developmental services sector, and the broader community.  She is a mom, wife, and obsessive knitter. She can be reached at jduckworth@karis.org.

    Disability Ministry 101 – Ministering with Families with Disabilities
    Cindy Kwan

    This is an interactive workshop for sharing tips, ideas, and considerations that I’ve learned over the years of working with students living with disabilities, serving in Village Eulogia, and with churches and communities that welcome people with disabilities.

    Cindy is a child of God redeemed by Jesus. She’s a wife, mother of two, special education teacher, and servant of God. Her calling is to work with autistic children and other disabilities. She’s also had the privilege of growing and serving with Village Eulogia (a ministry that supports families with disability) for over 13 years.

    Building a Christian Lifestyle, The Journey
    Lynne & Elizabeth Leyland

    This presentation will follow Elizabeth’s life, detailing the paths, the people, the challenges, the plans, the acceptance Elizabeth has received, and the continued need for adjustments in churches and in society so people with disabilities can embrace their faith, feel a sense of belonging and accomplishment and follow the lifeplan the Lord has prepared for them.

    Lynne has been a parent and family advocate for 20+ years, including running an autism support group and being engaged by charities as a guest speaker.She is a career volunteer, a lifelong Christian, a wife, and is mom to Elizabeth (who is also her best friend). Lynne now works part time for Village Eulogia, where she began as a family seeking a place where faith was a part of disability discussions. The Lord has always been a strength to Lynne as she sought to understand Elizabeth’s abilities, wishes and needs for an engaging and fulfilling Christian lifestyle.

    Elizabeth has compassion and empathy and loves to help others. She is a Christian (confirmed in 2018), and an active member of Dunbarton Fairport United church. Elizabeth loves worship music, being outdoors and staying active. Elizabeth enjoys being engaged as a community volunteer. She is involved in a variety of roles with various agencies and charities. Elizabeth is proud of what she has accomplished and likes that people see her for her abilities and contributions rather than for her disabilities.

  • Table Discussion
    Neil Cudney

    It’s been almost 30 years since the publication of Nancy Eiesland’s seminal work “The Disable God”. This work inspired so much of what was to follow in the academic and practical research and conversation regarding Disability, Theology and the Church. Whether you agree or disagree with her conclusions, the questions she asked and her attempt to form a working theology of disability were catalytic. Neil Cudney will facilitate a reflective community conversation on where we are 30 years after Disabled God’s publication and what yet needs to be achieved.

    Neil Cudney (D.Min) has been a part of the theology and disability conversation for over two decades.  He served Karis Disability Services (Christian Horizons) for 25 years during which he was an organizing member of the International Institue on Theology and Disability,  Spirituality and Religion Division President with the AAIDD, Chair of the Ontario Faith and Inclusion Network and a founding member of the Canadian Symposium on Theology and Disability, now Deeper Communion. He has taught and spoken frequently in Churches, Colleges and various events on Creating Communities of Belonging for persons with disabilities and their families.