The Nurturing Care Project seeks to design corporate worship and prayer practices that help children nurture their faith within congregational communities of care.

About Nurturing Care

The Nurturing Care project is focusing its efforts on two separate initiatives. The first addresses elementary school-age children with autism and will work with an ecumenical network of Kansas City churches to offer caring nurture to a growing segment of the population often overlooked by faith communities. The second builds on a pre-existing moral integration collaborative of west coast partners by engaging children in worship and prayer practices among diverse ethnic and immigrant congregations in Northern California. In both initiatives, the Nurturing Care project wants to help children recognize God’s presence in their lives, regardless of the culture or context in which they find themselves.

The two initiatives will utilize design thinking (a creative problem-solving process) to develop prototypes in worship and prayer practices uniquely suited to serve children shaped by diverse contexts. Congregations will work collaboratively with support from consultants, partner organizations, and subject matter experts.

Why do we use the language of nurturing care?

Our desire is to form and nurture caring people and caring communities for the sake of the church and the world. We want to engender values of gratitude, trust, forgiveness, and compassion among children and adults through our “curriculum of care.”

Our relationship to Nazarene Theological Seminary

Nurturing Care is a project of Nazarene Theological Seminary (NTS), courtesy of a grant by the Lilly Endowment, Inc. NTS is a graduate school of theology with a rich history in Christian education. It offers two lectureships on children’s ministry and early childhood development. As an educational leader, NTS will be an important convener and facilitator in the work of Nurturing Care.

To find out more or to participate in Nurturing Care, email Dr. Dean Blevins, Nurturing Care Director, at [email protected].

Our Staff

These Staff will be facilitating the Nurturing Care With Children in Worship and Prayer project.

Dr. Dean Blevins serves at the director of the Nurturing Care project. His email is [email protected].

Jeanette Platter is the project coordinator of the Nurturing Care project for Kansas City. Her email is [email protected].

Christy Dickt serves as the project coordinator of the Nurturing Care project for Northern California. Her email is [email protected].

Kansas City Events, Partnerships, and Resources

Kansas City Events

Get involved in these Nurturing Care events in the Kansas City area.

Information on our next events will be added soon.

These partners joined us in the October 24 lunch.

Kansas City Partnerships

Nurturing Care is working with a variety of experts, organizations, and churches with a deep knowledge and interest in autism and neuro-divergence. Some of these include the following:

Camp Encourage for Autistic Youth
Joshua Center for Neurological Disorders
SOAR Special Needs
The Sending Project

Autism Resources

Listed below are a variety of web-based resources on autism and disability ministries, as well as video stories on children with autism.


Wonderful Works (A Nazarene ministry)

University of Aberdeen’s Centre for Autism and Theology

Camp Encourage’s videos on Campers (personal narratives)

Joshua Center for Neurological Disorders classes on social skills

National Study on Faith and Disability

Collaborative on Faith and Disabilities

Kevin Tempe’s 22 Advocacy page

Joni and Friends



Videos are provided courtesy of SOAR Special Needs and Dr. Stephen “Doc” Hunsley. SOAR videos and podcasts can also be found by clicking here.

Spiritual Autism Awareness

A sermon by Dr. Stephen Hunsley, M.D.

SOAR–Why your Church needs a Special Needs Ministry

Presentation by Dr. Stephen Hunsley, M.D.

Everyone Deserves a Seat at the Table

Wonderfully Made Conference | Presentation by Dr. Stephen Hunsley, M.D.

Why Your Church Needs a Disability Ministry

A presentation by Dr. Stephen Hunsley, M.D.

Transforming Lives: Michael Palacio Story

A SOAR Special Needs Success Story

I See

A SOAR Special Needs video

Northern California Events, Partnerships, and Resources

Northern California Events

Get involved in these Nurturing Care events in Northern California.

Location: Alliance Redwoods Conference Grounds
Date: Nov. 9 to 12, 2023
Nurturing Care will host a luncheon for attendees who will get to hear Dr. Dean Blevins talk about the Nurturing Care grant initiative. To find out more, email Dean Blevins at [email protected].

About Northern California Partnerships

Nurturing Care is working with a variety of experts, organizations, and churches with a deep knowledge and interest in ethnic and immigrant children, as well as other helpful partners. Some of these include the following:

Northern California District, Church of the Nazarene
Center for Pastoral Leadership, Point Loma Nazarene University
Ross A. Oakes Mueller, PhD, Point Loma Nazarene University
Francisca Ireland-Verwoerd, PhD, Boston University
Erin Smith, PhD, Professor of Psychology, Fletcher Jones Endowed Professor of Research, Director of Research College of Behavioral and Social Sciences, California Baptist University

Ethnic/Immigrant Resources

Listed below are ministry-related resources for ethnic and immigrant children.

Resources are forthcoming.


Nazarene Theological Seminary Receives Grant of $1.25 Million from Lilly Endowment Inc
Read about Nazarene Theological Seminary receiving a grant to start Nurturing Care With Children in Worship and Prayer.

Frequently Asked Questions

Below are some frequently asked questions about the Nurturing Care project.

Q: Why is Nazarene Theological Seminary (NTS) interested in autism?
A: Autism is one of the fastest growing forms of disability in the United States, and is also one of the most misunderstood disabilities. A few years ago, a national study on disability ministry revealed that autism is their number one concern,  especially among children (ages 3 to 12). There is a great need to educate and provide information that will help the church community, including the Church of the Nazarene, effectively minister to such children. Through a grant from the Lilly Endowment Inc., NTS seeks to be a helpful part of the solution. In addition, NTS has been a long-time leader in children’s ministry and children’s spirituality, and has two lectureships that focus on this area.

Q: Why is the Nurturing Care project focusing on ethnic and immigrant children?
A: The ethnic and immigrant community is the fastest growing community in the United States. The Church of the Nazarene, like other denominations, often struggles to find appropriate ways to help churches with strong immigrant populations flourish amidst cultural challenges and tensions. Immigrant children, especially, struggle to reconcile the world of their cultural heritage and history and the new world they encounter in the United States, which imposes different demands as they navigate a new language or thought forms. How does the church find ways to provide meaningful worship and prayer practices among such children? The Nurturing Care project hopes to help children see how God can accompany them across both their cultural heritage and their new cultural context in ways that bring healing and wholeness.

Q: Why is the Nurturing Care project using design thinking to help solve issues?
A: When most people hear design thinking, they think of an iphone or Silicon Valley, but design thinking is a model of learning that asks how we might think creatively and work collaboratively to actively engage and solve a problem. Rather than lean on one person’s expertise, it is a process of discovery that more often leads to better ideas, deeper creative possibilities, and more innovations and adaptations because of the efforts of many active partners. Nurturing Care wants to empower the people and congregations involved in our project, because they know their location and setting is the most important thing that guides the project.

If you have a question about the Nurturing Care project or want to get involved, please email [email protected].

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