Special Needs Ministries
Rev. Dr. Richard and Christi Heyduck
Richard and Christi Heyduck have been involved in ministry in the Texas Annual Conference since Richard’s appointment to the Queen City – Bloomburg circuit in 1987. While living there, their first child was born. They knew she had special needs from day 1, but it took over a decade of testing to figure out what labels were helpful for understanding their daughter. Though they’ve been at it for almost 35 years now, they don’t feel much like experts. Because of their experience, however, they do have some ideas about what questions and conversations can be helpful as churches and church leaders seek to be in ministry with people and families that have special needs.
Rev. Doug Laws
My name is Doug Laws and I am a retired Elder in The Texas Conference.
For 25+ years I served as a Healthcare Chaplain in hospitals, hospice and palliative medicine. During that time I became deeply interested in learning how to care for the spiritual lives of people living with dementia and their loved ones. In 2019 I completed a Masters degree in Dementia and Aging from Texas State University.
I am available to assist clergy, worship leaders and care teams such as Stephen Ministers in developing “Dementia Friendly Church Communities “. This might involve speaking to and guiding care teams about communication and caring for spouses and family members, or aiding clergy in the pastoral care of people living with dementia. Zoom or phone consultation is also possible.
This is an important ministry that is often neglected because of embarrassment, lack of knowledge about dementia and the need for education about spiritual care. Allow me to be in ministry with you and make your congregation a “Dementia Friendly Church”.
Rev. Whitney Peper
Rev. Whitney Peper is an ordained Deacon in Full Connection within the UMC. She currently serves at St. Peter’s UMC in Katy, TX as the Pastor over Care Ministry, Special Needs and leads the Courage Worship Service on Sunday evenings. Whitney is married to Tim, and they have one son Jase.
Throughout her time at St. Peter’s, I have been blessed to serve as the lead for our Special Needs program and seen it grow and thrive into an amazing ministry that impacts the lives of children, teens, and adults with Special Needs and their entire family. We offer respite programs for children, teens, and adults, we have a thriving Sunday morning and Wednesday evening program, a worship service built for and by the special needs community, we offer parent and sibling support, host retreats for parents, and host special events throughout the year, and see our Special Needs Summer camp grow each year we are able to host it. I love working with other churches and ministries to help them see, while Special Needs can be a lot at times, it is one of the most fulfilling ministries because you are touching and impacting the whole thing. It is not about reinventing the wheel but working with others who have the wheel turning and partnering with them.