Report from the 2011 Annual Meeting in St. Paul, Minnesota

The Annual conference was recently help in St. Paul, Minnesota where the Religion and Spirituality Division held their annual meeting. Notes taken at the meeting are included below:

In attendance:

The Annual conference was recently help in St. Paul, Minnesota where the Religion and Spirituality Division held their annual meeting. Notes taken at the meeting are included below:

In attendance:

  • Nella Uitvlugt, Friendship Ministries (past president)
  • Anne Masters, Pastoral Ministry w/ Persons w/ Disabilities Archdiocese of Newark (Vice President)
  • Michael Hoggatt, Saddlebrook College
  • Chuck Werth, Bethesda Lutheran Communities
  • David Morstad Bethesda Institute
  • Angela Amado, ICI, U of Minnesota
  • Hollie Holt-Woehl, Luther Seminary
  • Jan Vancura, Faculty of Social Studies
  • Sr. Gabrielle Kowalski, Cardinal Stritch University
  • Debby Newman, Parent Advocate and Communications
  • Steve Leinhos, Bethesda Lutheran Communities
  • Kay Halverson, Volunteers of America
  • Don Healy, Western Illinois University Quad Cities (Treasurer)
  • Craig Modahl/li>
  • Jeff McNair, California Baptist University (President)
  • Shelly Christensen, Mpls Jewish Community Inclusion Program for People with Disabilities/Inclusion Innovations LLC (Secretary)
  • Dr. Hans Reinders Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam Netherlands (Guest speaker)


Jeff McNair called the meeting to order at 9:00AM and the Religion and Spirituality Division elections were held whereDon Healy elected Treasurer; Shelly Christensen elected Secretary.

Division Newsletter

Christopher Philips is the newsletter editor and can be reached at Anyone one is welcome to submit news, events or an article for the newsletter which is now available electronically and will be published more frequently.

Chaplain Certification Process

Anne Masters, Sr. Gabrielle Kowalski and Dave Morstad presented information on revising the Chaplain Certification Program:

  • History-Certification created when state chaplains in some states needed certification to trigger payment of public dollars to support their positions. 2 tracks created to also include lay ministries.
  • Field is different now, 2 certifications no longer relevant.
  • Survey of field yielded 4 responses. Some organizations require certification, others don’t. Four responders want to be certified, so there is some need for this.
  • Suggested after reviewing that the Division introduce a certification process specific enough to allow for training rigor and integrity of certification, but is broad enough to include spectrum of work going on in the field.
  • People can self-select to become certified.
  • Proposed requirements Educational requirement in disability and spirituality, theology, experience and mentoring. AAIDD membership required to be certified.
  • Noted that none of those certified could afford to attend the Annual Meeting or AAIDD conference. Possibly include online learning and webinars as requirements.
  • Face to face meeting at the annual meeting could be replaced by meeting with local Division members or using electronic media.
  • Next Steps: Complete draft recommendations by September 1. Release for discussion. Certification committee will be created.
  • Motion made and approved: The authority for the approval of the Certification Process is granted to the Executive Committee.

Treasurer Report

Will be included in the next Division Newsletter.

New Membership Features and Benefits

All of the benefits of AAIDD Membership!

Electronic subscription to the Journal of Religion, Disability and Health. Automatically be added to our monthly Religion and Spirituality Division Email Newsletter.

More information on benefits available here.

Nouwen Awards

Guidelines are available online at People interested in nominating someone for the award can apply online or by hard copy. Email nominations to Nella at

Changing shape of division

Technology and electronic communication

Jeff reiterated that we need a strategic outward presence to grow our division:

  • We have a Facebook page and can develop a weblog to share comments and practices. Electronic communication helps us to connect to other people, and may help build membership in the Division.
  • We want to develop an electronic handout that can be used to link this Division when attending other events. An example is the Alliance for Full Participation conference in November 2011 as well as other sacred community conferences and gatherings. It is important for them to know about the Division.

Organization of the Division

Sr. Gabrielle commented that our by-laws and covenant may be outdated and need editing. Leadership should consider revising and sending out to Division membership for comment. Sr. Gabrielle offered to help with this.

The meeting was adjourned at 10:01 and followed by an inspiring discussion with Dr. Hans Reinders and participants.

Respectfully submitted, Shelly Christensen

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