Faith and Flourishing: Hidden in Plain Sight

The TASH Amplified logo: a line illustration of a desktop microphone with the TASH Möbius strip inlayed

Season 1, Episode 6 — 20 April 2016

About this episode

Bill Gaventa discusses how, since people with disabilities are all different, there is no one right thing to do to welcome people with disabilities and how faith communities can focus on supporting the needs of the people right in front of them.

This is the third in a three-part preview of our upcoming conference, Faith and Flourishing: Embracing Inclusion for People with Disabilities, Their Families, and Congregations to be held on April 22nd in Nashville, Tennessee.

Promotional image for the TASH Nashville Faith and Flourishing Conference, the Nashville riverfront and skyline at dusk. The buildings are lit and their lights are reflected in the river.

About the presenters

A square portrait of Bill Gaventa, a man with bright blue eyes, parted dark brown hair and a grey beard. He is against a mottled blue background and wearing a blue collared shirt, dark suite jacket and tie.Bill Gaventa is currently the Director of the Summer Institute on Theology and Disability and the Director of the Collaborative on Faith and Disability. He served as Director of Community and Congregational Supports at the Elizabeth M. Boggs Center on Developmental Disabilities, and Associate Professor, Pediatrics, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in New Jersey until June 30, 2013. He now lives in Waco, Texas. In his role at The Boggs Center, Bill worked on community supports, initiatives in cultural competence, aging/end of life issues, supervision of a program in Clinical Pastoral Education, faith community leadership, and inclusive congregational supports. He has been active in initiatives in workforce development, support of direct care staff, self-directed supports, and staff training. Bill was Coordinator of Family Support for the Georgia Developmental Disabilities Council. Previously he served as Chaplain and Coordinator of Religious Services for the Monroe Developmental Center. He is a graduate of Stetson University and Union Theological Seminary. Bill served as Executive Secretary for the Religion and Spirituality Division of the AAIDD until 2010. He received the Service Award and a Presidential Award from the AAIDD, the COMISS Medal from the Congress on Ministries in Specialized Settings and a Special Recognition Award from the Association of University Centers on Disability. He has also received Outstanding Alumni Awards from his two alma maters. He is currently President Elect of the AAIDD. Bill Gaventa is married with a son, daughter-in-law, and new grandson.

A portrait of Donald Taylor, a man with a medium smile and a mob of curly dark hair in a black collared shirt against a pattern of a blue pained wrought-iron gateDonald Taylor is the Membership Manager at TASH and the producer of Amplified.


Announcer: You’re listening to TASH Amplified, a podcast that seeks to transform research and experience concerning inclusion and equity for people with disabilities into solutions people can use in their everyday lives.

Today’s episode is the last in a three-part preview of TASH’s upcoming conference, Faith and Flourishing: Embracing Inclusion for People with Disabilities, Their Families, and Congregations to be held this Friday, April 22nd in Nashville, Tennessee. We’re talking with Bill Gaventa about how faith communities can be welcoming to people with disabilities.

Bill Gaventa is the Director of the Summer Institute on Theology and Disability. From 1995 to 2003 he was a professor at the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in New Jersey where he served as Director of Community and Congregational Supports at the Elizabeth M. Boggs Center on Developmental Disabilities.

Complete transcript forthcoming

Announcer: You have been listening to TASH Amplified. For more about the series, including show notes, links to articles discussed, a complete transcript and a schedule of episodes updated as they become available, visit You can subscribe through iTunes or your favorite Android podcast app to have the series delivered automatically to your device so you never miss an episode. If you enjoyed today’s episode, please leave a rating for us on our iTunes page.

Our three-part series in anticipation of our Faith and Flourishing conference started two weeks ago with Peter McKechnie on how to start a ministry for people with disabilities. Last week’s part two was with Amy Fenton Lee on how to include children with disabilities and their families. You can learn more about these three workshops featured in Amplified, plus the eleven additional workshops of the full Faith and Flourishing conference, and register to attend at TASH thanks the following partners for their sponsorship of the Faith and Flourishing conference: The Vanderbilt University Kennedy Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities, Anthem, the Down Syndrome Association of Middle Tennessee, the Tennessee Council on Developmental Disabilities and SRVS.

TASH is a values and research-based advocacy association located in Washington, D.C., with local chapters coving 18 states. In 2015 we celebrated our 40th anniversary. We offer organization, advocacy, collaboration, scholarship and education for people with disabilities, researchers, educators, service providers and family members. In addition to this podcast series, we offer a scholarly quarterly, Research and Practice for Persons with Severe Disabilities, a popular magazine, Connections, a series of conferences. You can learn more about TASH at You can receive updates from TASH on this podcast and our other activities by following us on Facebook or on twitter at @TASHtweet.

This has been a sample of the colleagues and conversations available through TASH. It is only because of the excellent work that our members do that we can bring you this information. For more resources such as this and to become a member, visit

We’ll hear from another outstanding advocate again in two weeks.

This interview was originally recorded on 18 March 2016.

This transcript has been lightly edited for clarity.

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