Professional Dissertations DMin

Date of Award

2019

Document Type

Project Report

Degree Name

Doctor of Ministry

College

Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary

Program

Doctor of Ministry DMin

First Advisor

Anita Pembleton

Second Advisor

Pamela Consuegra

Third Advisor

Richard Sylvester

Abstract

Problem

According to recent statistics, Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) affects about 1 in 59 children each year, and over the past decade, there has been a two-fold increase in ASD diagnoses in children. Another study points out that 80% of marriages that have a child with autism will end in divorce due to stress and other factors. If the local rate of ASD reflects that of the national rate, there is an opportunity for the Atlanta All Nations Church to provide ministry to both church and community families affected. As it stood, there was not a significant awareness about Autism Spectrum Disorders in the leadership team and no clear strategy for creatively utilizing the present resources for in-reach and outreach ministry to these families.

Method

This research investigated Autism Spectrum Disorder while employing current literature to understand its prevalence, causes, and strategies for treatment. The Bible, supporting material from Ellen White, and other literature were used to design a three-weekend seminar to increase awareness of ASD and provide tools to the membership in ministering to those with ASD. Participants of the seminar were asked to take part in pre and post surveys to gauge the effectiveness of the program.

Results

The project reveals the potential for church families to be positively impacted by a seminar dealing with ASD. It may also indicate that information that sensitizes them to ASD can influence the attitude of the membership. During the seminar, seven precious souls were baptized with one having a special need and later in the year two persons both having special needs joined the church family. Due to the project, a special needs ministry team was eventually organized and provided a budget and are now working steadily at improving this ministry.

Conclusions

The church must be intentional about ministering to those with ASD to gain invaluable results. A ministry model based on the intervention of Christ to a special needs planet can provide a model for working with church families in showing hospitality and love to those affected by ASD. When the church awakens to its responsibility to those with ASD and other special needs, then a resurgence of godly love and compassion will follow

Subject Area

Autism spectrum disorders; All Nations Seventh-day Adventist Church (Berrien Springs, Mich.); Church work with autistic people--Seventh-day Adventists

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