Join Us March 4-6, 2021

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A Conference for Northern California Churches
March 4-6, 2021
Hosted at Redwood Chapel
19300 Redwood Rd.
Castro Valley, CA

BASS Convention Presenter: Anna Penner

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Anna Penner
Anna Penner

Graduate Student
UC Irvine
Irvine, CA

Anna was born and raised in Japan as a missionary kid. She has two older brothers one of whom has severe mental and physical disabilities. The experiences she had led her to wonder what the effect of having a disabled sibling might be and in 2011 she started a Ph.D. program in Sociology to look at outcomes of children with disabled siblings.

2015 Workshops

Special Needs: Walking with the Siblings of Children with Special Needs


Churches are in a unique position to care for an overlooked group: the siblings of special needs children. Growing up with a special needs sibling is very different from only having typically developing siblings. These siblings are often encouraged or expected to help care for their disabled sibling or help their overwhelmed parents around the home more than their peers are. These children also grow up more quickly than their peers and often feel like they do not quite fit in. The church has a wonderful opportunity to recognize and build up their value as children of God and individuals apart from their disabled sibling. To give them the support and safety to question a loving God who handed them an unfair life. To come alongside and walk with them on a tough journey. While there are sibling support groups around the nation, they are not faith-based and thus lack essential elements such as hope, love, and meaning that a Christian community can provide. This session will discuss some of the hurdles facing these siblings as well as practical ways church communities can walk with them in their faith and daily life.