Barbara J. Newman is the Henri J. Nouwen Award Honoree

The Executive Committee of the Religion and Spirituality Division had a wonderful problem on our hands. For the first time that any of us could remember, we had more than one nominee for the Henri J. Nouwen Award! Five tremendously talented and passionate people were nominated and each one is a role model who inspires others in so many ways. How fortunate our faith communities are to have such devoted and committed individuals serving them in a variety of capacities.

The Executive Committee of the Religion and Spirituality Division had a wonderful problem on our hands. For the first time that any of us could remember, we had more than one nominee for the Henri J. Nouwen Award! Five tremendously talented and passionate people were nominated and each one is a role model who inspires others in so many ways. How fortunate our faith communities are to have such devoted and committed individuals serving them in a variety of capacities.

Barbara J. Newman is the recipient of the 2015 Henri J. Nouwen Award. Her career, which spans three decades, exemplifies the spirit of Henri Nouwen in her dedication to inspire inclusive faith communities. Barbara J. Newman has been dedicated to educating, equipping, and serving alongside people with developmental disabilities (particularly in the areas of early childhood and Autism Spectrum Disorder) and their friends for over thirty years.

As an energetic teacher, insightful consultant, prolific author, dynamic speaker, and visionary ministry director, Barbara has combined her background in special education and her deep conviction for inclusion to shape inclusive, interdependent faith communities across the United States for individuals with disabilities.

Barbara was part of a team from CLC Network (Christian Learning Center) that pioneered inclusive education at Zeeland Christian School (ZCS), the first inclusive Christian school in the United States. Building on her experience as the Inclusive Education Director and Special Educator at ZCS, Barbara has helped the CLC Network team replicate this model at Christian schools throughout the United States.

In 2007, she established the church services division at CLC Network. Her work in this area includes publishing twelve books, recording five training DVDs, headlining national speaking engagements, and consulting with individual churches and denominations. Whether she is writing or speaking, she grounds her words in Biblical foundations, helping her connect with and inspire audiences of diverse denominations. She has created and contributed to more than twenty books and resources including:

  • Autism and Your Church: Nurturing the Spiritual Growth of People with Autism
    Spectrum Disorders
  • Helping Kids Include Kids with Disabilities
  • The Easter Book, and Body Building: Devotions to Celebrate Inclusive Community.
  • Her newest book, Accessible Gospel, Inclusive Worship, shares ideas and advice for introducing the Gospel and fostering faith formation in individuals with intellectual disabilities.

    Barbara is a well-loved speaker and has contributed her talents to over seventy-five different events in the past five years for universities, churches, and schools. More than 2,000 congregations have been impacted by Barbara’s trainings.

    A leader and innovator, Barbara is highly respected by her colleagues in education and
    disability ministry. She received the Christian Service Award in 2012 from Bethesda Lutheran Communities and the Barbara Lipinki Award of Merit in 2007.

    Barbara’s gift for disability advocacy is effective in part because it is a natural expression of her Christian faith. It is clear that in her interactions with others, she demonstrates that each person, no matter what their ability or disability, is a valued, indispensible member of the Body of Christ as depicted in 1 Corinthians 12. She reflects Henri J.M. Nouwen’s respect, gratitude, and compassion for all human beings and commitment to see each person recognize, contribute, and develop their gifts in God’s world.

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