How to access the Journal of Disability & Religion

Your membership in the Religion and Spirituality Special Interest Group of AAIDD provides you with access to the Journal of Disability & Religion. Keep up with current conversations on disability and theology by many of the leading voices in this area, as well as investigate historical roots.

We have included below updated information on how to access the Journal of Disability & Religion with your Division membership. Going forward, you can find these step-by-step instructions on our activities & resources page.

Here’s how to access the journal:

  • Login to your account on
  • Select “Journals” under “Publications” which is on the top of your screen.
  • You will find the AAIDD Journals listed first, and then the Journal of Disability & Religion (currently listed as the Journal of Religion, Disability, & Health).
  • Select the “view” button to the right, which looks like this: 
  • This will bring you to a page with a “Click here to access the journal” link that will remain active for 5 minutes.
  • Follow the link, and you will be brought to a page that lists links for all volumes, from “Latest Articles back to Volume 1 from 1994.

Journal of Disability & Religion

journalcoverThe Journal of Disability & Religion provides an interfaith, interdisciplinary forum for people interested in the intersections of religion, disability, human services, and academic research to come together, meet, and learn. The aim of this exchange is to support people with disabilities and their families as well as those who are working with them in the purview of their faith communities and traditions. It addresses religious and spiritual practices and beliefs from the perspective of inclusive communities for people with disabilities.

Thomas Hoeksema – Henri J Nouwen Reward Recipient

At the recent Religion and Spirituality Division meeting of the AAIDD in Hartfort, CT Dr. Thomas Hoeksema was awarded the Henri J. Nowen award. You can learn more about the award criteria here.

Over at the monthly CRC publication The BannerLori Dykstra wrote an excellent write-up on July 6th. You can find the article at this link, though we will also include the text below. Thanks to Lori and the Banner for permission to repost.

shelly and tom
Henri Nouwen Award presented by outgoing Division president Shelly Christensen.

On June 29, Dr. Thomas Hoeksema, former chair of the Christian Reformed Church’s Committee on Disability Concerns, was presented the 2017 Henri Nouwen Award. The award recognizes an individual with compassion for and a commitment to people who have developmental disabilities, and who is dedicated to expanding and enhancing the understanding of their spiritual needs and gifts.

Presented by the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (AAIDD) Religion and Spirituality Division, the ceremony took place in Hartford, Conn., at the organization’s annual national convention.

The Henri Nouwen Award is bestowed upon a recipient who is nominated by his or her peers. Hoeksema was nominated by his peers at CLC Network (formerly Christian Learning Center).

“If somehow this award can remind people of Nouwen’s virtues, and if my life in some way reflected those too, then I’m happy,” said Hoeksema, a member at Grace Christian Reformed Church (Grand Rapids, Mich.). “[Nouwen] fundamentally changed how I and many others value people with disabilities. They have gifts, and those gifts need to be unwrapped, shared, and received.”

Hoeksema has dedicated his entire 40-year career to coming alongside people with disabilities and their families, working to improve inclusivity and accessibility in society.

As a professor at Calvin College, Hoeksema helped pioneer the special education program in 1978. He also created the Office of Services for Students with Disabilities, worked with the college to eliminate barriers for students with limited mobility, and served as the director of the college’s Institute on Inclusive Schooling from 1997-2001.

Hoeksema was a founder and board member of CLC Network, which strives to empower schools and churches to educate and include people with disabilities. He also served as a board member for Friendship Ministries, the International Journal of Whole Schooling, and the Journal of Religion, Disability and Health (now Journal of Disability & Religion).

“God put in me an awareness of people who were sometimes invisible to others. I don’t claim credit for that; it was just in me,” said Hoeksema. “All I could do was respond with my heart and mind and my whole self. My desire was to change the church, change the school, change the workplace and the world in ways that would make it something closer to what God would want it to be.”

You may wish to read a similar announcement from the CLC Network at the following link and adding a comment of congratulations:

You can download Dr. Thomas Hoeksema’s paper, Protecting Religious Freedom: The Caregiver’s Responsibility by clicking here.

President’s Greeting


I want to take this time to introduce myself, Neil Cudney, as the President of the Religion and Spirituality Division for the next two years, as well, update you on some of the current work.

One behalf of the division executive committee, I invite you to get acquainted with the division and encourage you to participate in the upcoming AAIDD June conference, and our post-conference Division day on June 29th 2017.

The focus of our day will be the new Home and Community Based Services regulations in the USA and the AODA in Canada, two pieces of government legislation that expect service providers to support faith and culture choices of persons with disabilities. It will be an important day of presentations and discussion.  We are making arrangements so that participants will be able to join online.  We would love to have you there in person but understand that distance and costs are a reality.  By creating an online option, we hope that many of our members will join the day.

We have updated the division’s website to increase accessibility and engagement. Please let us know if you have any ideas you would like to see included. You can also follow along with the division on Facebook ( or Twitter (@aaiddreligion).

We want to remind you of a great resource and encourage you to subscribe to the Journal of Disability and Religion.  There you will find a wide array of articles addressing spirituality in the lives of persons with disabilities.  The articles are from all over the globe and represent the various perspectives of spirituality. You will find a link to the journal on the division website.  Attached you will find a sample article.

The Division also offers a professional certification program.  It is a great opportunity for those who have, as part of their responsibilities, the mandate to encourage, instruct and lead spiritual supports in their agency or faith community.  It is a guided course of study and research that will deepen understanding and engagement.  Upon successful completion, the Division grants and endorses that the person has met the requirements and expectations of the Certificate.

One of our hopes for the division is that it would become a place of meeting and collaboration for anyone who is invested in promoting the spiritual hopes, dreams and desires of persons with disabilities.         

Thank your for being a member of this Division, and we hope to be able to support, encourage and engage you in this important work.  You can help us in two ways.

  1. Considering coming yourself, or identifying a person within your organization to attend.
  2. Help us to spread the word and encourage others to become a part of the Division?

If you have any questions, comments or thoughts regarding the division, please do not hesitate to contact me at

Yours, Dr Neil Cudney, President

Celebrating Bob Perske

bob_perskeToday we take a moment to celebrate the life of Robert (Bob) Perske (1927-2016), long time member of the Religion & Spirituality Division of the AAIDD. Early in his career, Bob served as a chaplain at Kansas Neurological Institute, an institution for 250 children and youth with intellectual disabilities.  After pastoring there for eleven years, he continued to live a lifetime of writing and advocacy for people with disabilities, especially as they faced courts and legal processes. Where people with IDD may confess to crimes they did not commit simply because they wish to make the police or others happy, Bob tirelessly fought for their rights in his actions and writing.

You can read many of Bob’s articles over at his website, The AAIDD will be offering a special pre-conference workshop on living his legacy forward before the upcoming conference. You can read a tribute from the AAIDD here. A striking quote from this tribute reflects on Bob’s constant reminder that human dignity involves risk. All too often, caregivers and service organizations have “clever ways of building the avoidance of risk into the lives” of people with IDD. Bob drew attention to these practices that stifled their opportunities for personal growth, observing that there can be a “dehumanizing indignity in safety.”

Communitas EST recently released a retrospective newsletter following a life celebration for Bob in Darien, CT – his home for 40 years. We have been given permission to post that newsletter here, which I encourage you to take a look at.

Click here to download the newsletter – “Celebrating Bob Perske!!”

2017 Call for Nominations – Henri J.M. Nouwen Award

Nominations due by Friday, February 10, 2017

The Religion and Spirituality Division of AAIDD is proud to announce that we are now accepting nominations for the 2017 Henri J.M. Nouwen Award recipient. Nominees are people who reflect the compassion, commitment, ministry and servanthood that
values and esteems people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The Award will be presented at the 2017 AAIDD Annual Conference in Hartford, CT, June 26-29.

To learn more about the nomination process or to submit a nomination, click here.

Benjamin T. Conner receives the Henri J. M. Nouwen Award from Anne Masters

Important Announcement! Call for Nominations for the Henri J.M. Nouwen Award

Due date for all nominations is January 31, 2016

Download a flyer with this information here

Dear Religion and Spirituality Division Members

Do you know the next Henri J.M. Nouwen Award recipient?

The Religion and Spirituality Division of AAIDD is proud to announce that we are now accepting nominations for the 2015 Henri J.M. Nouwen Award recipient.

Continue reading “Important Announcement! Call for Nominations for the Henri J.M. Nouwen Award”

Member Spotlight: The Rev. Rosemarie Newberry

The Rev. Rosemarie Newberry is one of the Division’s recently certified Spiritual Supports Professionals and also the Division’s representative to the Congress on Ministries in Specialized Settings (COMMISS), a collaborative network bringing pastoral care and counseling networks, faith groups that endorse chaplains, and others.

Continue reading “Member Spotlight: The Rev. Rosemarie Newberry”