Disability and Youth Ministry Conference

February 1, 2018 - February 2, 2018

 Disability and Youth Ministry Conference

February 1 – February 2, 2018

Sponsored by the Institute for Youth Ministry
at Princeton Theological Seminary

Call for Papers

Register Now



In theology and ministry with young people, disability is often treated as a problem to be solved. Christian leaders approach people with disabilities as a target audience in need of integration into traditional church programming, rather than as full-fledged members of Christian community. But what would happen if the Church were to invest in and affirm young people with disabilities as active members of the body of Christ? How might the Church be reformed and reshaped by God’s work in young people with disabilities? Join the Institute for Youth Ministry for this 2-day event where we will engage both scholars and practitioners, striving to create an interdisciplinary conversation that makes a difference in a world of difference.

Engage with scholars and practitioners who care deeply about ministry with young people.

Who is this conference for?

  • Christian leaders who minister with young people with disabilities
  • Emerging scholars who are exploring the intersection of disability, theology, anthropology, medicine, and young people
  • Christian educators
  • Chaplains who offer pastoral care to young people with disabilities
  • Clergy and church members who have a vision for integrating young people with disabilities in their ministry


Keynote Speakers

Dr. John Swinton 

John Swinton is the Chair in Divinity and Religious Studies at the University of Aberdeen, Scotland. Previously he worked as a nurse for 16 years, specializing in the areas of psychiatry and learning disability. He also spent a number of years working in the field of hospital chaplaincy. He is an ordained minister in the Church of Scotland with a strong commitment to supporting the work of the church. He is the author of several publications on theology, ministry, and disability, including From Bedlam to Shalom, Resurrecting the Person: Friendship and Care of People with Mental Health Problems, and Dementia: Living in the Memories of God.


Rev. Dr. Erin Raffety

Erin Raffety is a Lecturer in Youth, Church, and Culture in the Department of Practical Theology at Princeton Theological Seminary. She earned her MDiv from Princeton Seminary and her PhD in Cultural Anthropology from Princeton University. Her book manuscript, Families We Need is based on ethnographic research in China with foster families raising children with disabilities, and her current research and writing considers intersections of anthropology, disability studies, and ministry. Raffety is a recent recipient of a Science for Youth Ministry mini-grant from the Templeton Foundation, which will support interdisciplinary and scientific exploration of disabilities in her spring 2018 course offered at PTS on “Ministry with People with Disabilities.”  She also serves as the Associate Pastor for Outreach and Education at Grace Presbyterian Church in Kendall Park, NJ and is an advocate for people with disabilities.



Dr. Amy Jacober

Amy Jacober is a founding member and faculty of the Sonoran Theological Group. Amy is a veteran youth worker who holds a PhD in Theology from Fuller Seminary. She volunteers with Young Life’s Capernaum ministry as well as serves on the National Board. Her upcoming book is titled Redefining Perfection: the dance between theology and disability.


Dr. Benjamin Conner

Ben Conner is Professor of Practical Theology  and Director of the Graduate Certificate in Disability and Ministry, the only program of its kind in the US, at Western Theological Seminary.  For seven years before joining Western’s faculty he ran a ministry to and with adolescents with intellectual and developmental disabilities.



Bill Gaventa
| Moderator

Bill Gaventa is the Director of the Summer Institute on Theology and Disability and the new Collaborative on Faith and Disability, linking a number of University Centers of Excellence in Developmental Disabilities who are addressing spirituality through initiatives in training, technical assistance, research, and/or dissemination. He also served as the President of American Association of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities for 2016–17. Bill’s primary areas of expertise include spiritual and faith-based supports, training, and end of life issues with people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. His forthcoming book, Disability and Spirituality: Recovering Wholeness (Baylor University Press), will be published in the spring of 2018.

Cost & Registration


$175 which includes: all conference events, including keynote addresses, panel discussion, worship, breakout sessions, refreshments, and two meals.

Register Now


*Registration Deadline: January 26, 2018

Accommodation requests related to a disability should be made by January 1, 2018 by emailing [email protected]A good faith effort will be made to fulfill requests.