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From Longing to Belonging

A Practical Guide to Including People with Disabilities and Mental Health Conditions in Your Faith Community

Written by: Shelly Christensen MA, FAAIDD

Shelly Christensen is one of the leading voices in the field of faith community disability inclusion.  From Longing to BelongingA Practical Guide to Including People with Disabilities and Mental Health Conditions in Your Faith Community is her much-anticipated new book. 



Advance Praise 

The stories that Shelly tells, and the empowering paths she proposes to get to the place and time where you have your own, are what belonging is about. Enjoy the trip!

Bill Gaventa, M.Div.
Director, Summer Institute on Theology and Disability

In her compelling book, Shelly Christensen calls us to become communities in which people with disabilities are welcomed, known, needed, and loved. Through stories and strategies, she guides readers on how best to engage, equip, and encourage their congregations in ways that lead toward real inclusion and deep belonging.

Erik Carter, Ph.D.
Cornelius Vanderbilt Professor of Special Education, Vanderbilt University

Shelly Christensen has done what many attempt, but do not succeed.  She has combined the philosophical and theoretical basis of inclusion of people with disabilities in congregational life with very practical, applied experience-based tools, strategies, practical steps and approaches for congregations to adopt and adapt to their particular needs. Shelly assumes that all people with disabilities can be included—and boldly lights the way for that to happen.  From Longing to Belonging should be used by any congregation, regardless of faith tradition, to move towards making worship and participation in congregational life meaningful for all people.

Steven M. Eidelman
Faculty Director, The National Leadership Consortium on Developmental Disabilities

H. Rodney Sharp
Professor of Human Services Policy and Leadership, University of Delaware

Shelly Christensen has created an invaluable “how to” guide for faith communities. From Longing to Belonging is an essential tool for clergy and laity who wish to spread wide their tent of meeting. The book stands on a powerful faith-based foundation that key to all people is the basic need to belong and feel valued, just because they exist.

Rabbi Richard F. Address, D.Min
Director, Jewish Sacred Aging®

Shelly Christensen has literally written the book on inclusion. Using personal and professional stories, Shelly illuminates the need for and the ease to which an organization can open its doors to becoming a more welcoming community.

From Longing to Belonging is truly the Bible that will guide us to create the sacred space where we all belong.

Elaine G.F. Hall
Award-winning author, Now I See the Moon
Founder of The Miracle Project®
Featured in the HBO film, Autism: The Musical