By Shannon Baker

COLUMBIA, Md.— The Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware (BCM/D) will host the conference, “Made in God’s Image: Christ’s Call to Love Families with Special Needs,” from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on May 6 at Cresthill Baptist Church, 510 Laurel Bowie Road, Bowie, Md. (map). The conference is designed to equip church leaders, parents and ministry volunteers to minister to families and individuals affected by disabilities.

Featured speakers include the following:

Amberle Brown, World Relief  

From the age of seven, Amberle felt called to be a missionary to an unreached people group. However, at the age of 21, a rare disease left her eyes legally blind and her hopes seemingly dashed. In a beautiful story of redemption, God called Amberle to be a missionary to the largest unreached people group in the world – people with disabilities. Amberle works full-time with World Relief, an organization committed to empowering the Church to serve the most vulnerable around the world – and also serves with the BCM/D as they strive to promote disability-inclusion in the Church.

Hunter Brown, Freedom Church, Baltimore

Hunter Brown is a former North American Mission Board (NAMB) church-planting intern and now pursues ministry in Baltimore bi-vocationally as he works as the head golf coach at Goucher College. He is also a part-time graduate student at St. Mary’s Ecumenical Institute of Theology and has become passionate about the Church and disability through his own experience with his wife, Amberle, and extensive theological reflection on the subject as a part of his studies.

Lainie Browning, Special Blessings Ministry, First Baptist Church, Whitehouse, Texas

Lainie Browning is a stay-at-home mom of two boys, Nicholas, 11, and Trent, 17, who has Down Syndrome, autism and is non-verbal. He is the inspiration behind her true passion of meeting the needs of special needs families in our community. She started the Special Blessings Ministry at First Baptist Church, Whitehouse, Texas, hoping to make the church a special needs friendly church. Shortly after starting up Special Blessings, Lainie also started an Adult Day-Hab Program, Life Blessings.

Michael Crawford, State Director of Missions, Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware

Michael Crawford is the State Director of Missions for the Baptist Convention of Maryland Delaware. He is also a pastor at Freedom Church in Baltimore, Md., which he planted in 2010. He is passionate about inspiring, equipping and funding churches so they can serve individuals and families with disabilities.

Larry and Susan Davis, Grace Church, Seaford, Del.

Larry is an Eastern Shore native (Sharptown) and has been married for 24 years to his high school sweetheart Susan. They have 2 children: Britney and Seth. Larry worked as an Engineer for 10 years before he committed to full-time ministry in 2003. Larry has a Bachelor of Arts in Religion from Luther Rice University and a MA in Ethical Leadership from Claremont Lincoln University. He loves investing in other leaders and believes that God has placed dreams in the deep wells of all of our souls. Great leaders draw out those dreams with compassion, wisdom and understanding.

Dr. Ray Davis, D.Min., Senior Pastor, First Baptist Church, Whitehouse, Texas

Dr. Ray Davis (D.Min.) is senior pastor at First Baptist Church, Whitehouse, Texas. Dr. Davis has served Texas churches for over 30 years. He and his wife, Becky have two sons and one “perfect” grandson, Sam. One of his favorite ministries is the Special Blessings Ministry at FBC Whitehouse. Ray believes that the church should be that “Banquet” where all of us who are special are not only welcomed and included, but celebrated. If Jesus visited First Whitehouse, says Pastor Ray, He would go straight to our Special Blessings ministry and enjoy them.

Danny Hinton, Pastor of Preaching and Vision, Gospel Community Church, Owensboro, Ky.

Before becoming a Christian, the planting pastor of Gospel Community Church spent 23 years as a certified interpreter for the Deaf for the local school system of Daviess County, Kentucky. Working in both grade schools and college, it was during his career that the Holy Spirit began to soften his heart to the acceptance of the Gospel and Danny was saved by grace. As a member of the local Deaf Community, Danny’s heart now is to reach his community with the Gospel message of Jesus Christ. Gospel Community Church is a driven church that seeks to reach lost people in both the hearing and Deaf communities.

Dr. Jimmy Painter, Senior Pastor, Cresthill Baptist Church, Bowie, Md.

Jimmy Painter has served as Pastor at Cresthill for 22 years, and has been in pastoral ministry for over 3 decades. Cresthill is a multicultural church radically committed to reaching the world for Christ. Cresthill has mission partnerships in Nicaragua, India, and around the world. In 2015, Cresthill began a ministry designed specifically for individuals with special needs. Most recently, Cresthill hosted “Night to Shine,” a prom for individuals with special needs, sponsored by the Tim Tebow Foundation.

Tom Stolle, Chief Financial Officer/Chief Operating Officer, Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware

Tom has served the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware for 12 years directing, supervising and coordinating the finance, accounting, and budgeting operations and serving the staff as Human Resource Director. He additionally spearheads BCM/D’s special needs ministries. His youngest son, Jimmy, is a child with autism, who has sparked a passion in Tom to assist our churches in the area of effective special needs ministry. He also enjoys participating in events that raise awareness for special needs causes, such as walks for autism.

Tom Stolle will serve as emcee.

The cost for the conference is $25 (a group of five or more are attending from the same church, family, or organization, the cost will be discounted to $20 per person) and includes lunch.

Register online. For more information, email Tom Stolle, or call 800.466.5290, ext. 207.