About Barbara J. Newman

About Barbara J. Newman



Barbara J. Newman, née Bandstra (1962–2020), a pioneer in inclusive education, served as a program affiliate for the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship (CICW), leading seminars and presenting at the annual Calvin Symposium on Worship. Her work with CICW focused on helping churches expand hospitality and engagement for all people, regardless of their abilities, disabilities, and needs. Topics included universal design and responsive design for worship, inclusive worship, and building an interdependent church community. The lasting benefits of her work extend even to those without an identified need for support.

Newman spent forty years equipping schools and churches to welcome, engage, and embrace people of all abilities. A 1984 graduate of Calvin College (now University), Newman was a church and school consultant and speaker for All Belong Center for Inclusive Education, formerly known as the Christian Learning Center and the CLC Network. She was the creator of All Belong’s church division, which later merged with Friendship Ministries to form With Ministries. For three decades, Newman also led and taught in the inclusion program at Zeeland Christian School.

Newman wrote more than a dozen books, including Worship as One: Varied Abilities in the Body of Christ (2021), Accessible Gospel, Inclusive Worship (2016), Nuts and Bolts of Inclusive Education (2013), Body Building: Devotions to Celebrate Inclusive Community (2009), Autism and Your Church (2006), and Helping Kids Include Kids with Disabilities (2001). In addition to her writing, Newman was a frequent speaker at educational conferences, churches, and seminaries across the United States, and she served for years as her church’s children’s ministry director.

As a leader in inclusive education and advocacy, Newman was the recipient of several local and national awards, including the Ability Award from the Disability Network Lakeshore in 2017, the Henri J.M. Nouwen Award from the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities in 2015, and the National Leadership Award from the National Council on the Handicapped (now the National Council on Disability) in 1988. Zeeland Christian School created the Barb J. Newman Legacy Award in her memory.

Newman earned a bachelor’s degree from Calvin College and a master’s degree from Grand Valley State University, the latter in early childhood education and early childhood developmental delay, with a concentration in autism spectrum disorder.

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About Barbara J. Newman