Currently pursuing an MBA, Tim Fisher, a 2006 theology graduate of The Baptist College of Florida (BCF), recently presented research outcomes, “Overcoming Barriers to Inclusion in Faith Communities,” at the National American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (AAIDD) Conference. Functioning as a treatment team leader at Bluegrass Oakwood, an intermediate care facility for adults with intellectual disabilities, and serving as the bivocational pastor at Lakeside Baptist Church in Nancy, KY, Fisher has a caseload of 15 individuals as a Qualified Intellectual Disability Professional.
In early 2014, Fisher was asked to lead a focus group on improving church participation among residents in Oakwood. At the beginning of the study, Fisher noted that participation in church attendance on a weekly basis was close to 10% with all going to the same church and segregated into their own group. Fisher compared that percentage to the 17.9% of the population that attended church in the county where he lives. After extensive research and successfully completing the study, Fisher stated “The Lord has really blessed our effort. We now have a little over 25% of our residents attending about 7 different churches. This is just one of our accomplishments on improving inclusion.”
After observing the process of overcoming the barriers and the tremendous success within the facility, Fisher’s department head suggested he submit a proposal to present at the AAIDD National Conference and it was well received and readily accepted. In addition to the presenting at the conference, Fisher has been promoted twice at Oakwood and won the “Change Champion Award” in 2014 for outstanding improvement leader.
Fisher believes that since his church could not afford a full-time pastor and he needed additional employment to help support his family, the Lord provided this incredible area of special needs ministry opportunity at Oakwood. “I believe this was all part of God’s plan to help me fall in love with special needs ministry,” stated Fisher.