Blind since he was in high school, Mark has been drawn to study the writings of scholars with disabilities who interpret the Bible and reflect theologically on God’s relationship with disability. Writers he has learned from include Amos Yong (The Bible, Disability, and the Church), Nancy Eiesland (The Disabled God), Thomas Reynolds (Vulnerable Communion), and Mark Pinsky (Amazing Gifts: Stories of Faith, Disability, and Inclusion). "I believe that God has given me an ability to have vision despite my vision impairment, to recognize that life is often more than it first appears to be,” Mark commented.
Mark describes his vision for encouraging inclusion in congregations:
”What normally comes to your mind when you think of people with disabilities in your congregations and faith communities? As a Preacher’s Kid (PK) and a Missionary’s Kid (MK) who grew up in the church, I have been blessed to know many good people of faith who love and care for people in the church and the wider community. I used to think that people with disabilities were individuals with needs who typically demanded constant care and assistance. As I have grown in my faith, I have learned that the church is made up entirely of people who always need care and assistance of some kind. This is what being human means: we are all “disabled” in one way or another.
“When Christians become aware of another person’s disability, our instinctive response may be to care for them, or to separate ourselves because their presence makes us uncomfortable. Faithful church members or leaders may want to include the person with a disability, but are unsure what specific actions would be helpful.
"I look forward to providing support and information to faith communities that desire to learn more and grow in their faith as a body of believers to be fully welcoming and including of all people into their sacred spaces of worship and education. As Christians we are called to invite and care for one another, and to enable participation—no matter what one’s abilities are—in an inclusive community where all people are able to gather to worship and learn about God and the call to follow Jesus in the ministry and mission of the church and God’s kingdom on earth.”
Mark is a graduate of Kentucky Christian University in Grayson, Kentucky, and Lancaster Theological Seminary in Pennsylvania. While in seminary, he became involved in leading the school’s disability awareness committee. After students began to seek out his expertise for disability issues they were encountering in their ministry, he realized God was calling him to a ministry that includes advocacy with people with disabilities.
Mark welcomes invitations to preach, lead Bible study, and teach Sunday school classes in Anabaptist congregations in eastern Pennsylvania and adjoining areas of Maryland, Delaware, and New Jersey. He is happy to consult with church leaders about ways to accommodate and include people with disabilities of all types.
Mark currently lives in Harrisburg, where he attends Harrisburg Church of the Brethren. Contact Mark through the ADN office.