Tennessee Center








Vanderbilt Kennedy Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities

The Vanderbilt Kennedy Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities provides innovative leadership in education, research, and services to people with disabilities, the community, and families. We promote the independence, self-determination, productivity, integration, and inclusion of individuals with developmental disabilities and provide supports for families.

Our Disabilities, Religion, and Spirituality Program provides disability-related training to current and future religious and spiritual leaders and educators; supports individuals with disabilities and their families as they give expression to their religion or spirituality; and encourages disability service providers to consider the religious and spiritual interests of the individuals they serve.

Contact Us:

Erik Carter                                erik.carter@vanderbilt.edu

(615) 875-3398


Vanderbilt Kennedy Center Activities


  • Disability Ministries Case Studies (2014 to present)
  • Spirituality, Supports, and Well-Being of Youth and Adults with Significant Disabilities (2011-2014)
  • North American Survey of Disability  and Theological Education (2013)
  • Individuals With Disabilities and Full Participation in Communities of Faith: A Means to Health and Well-Being (2009)


Education & Training

  • Disabilities and Congregation Inclusion Conference (2010, 2011)
  • “Praying With Lior” Film Screening (2010)
  • Field Education site for students at Vanderbilt Divinity School  (2008-present)
  • Helping Individuals With Intellectual Disabilities Cope With Loss, Panel Discussion (2011)
  • Where Personal, Professional, and Communal Ethics Meet: The Challenge and Promise of Inclusive Spiritual Supports With People With Developmental Disabilities and Their Families, Bill Gaventa lecture (2009)
  • Beyond Inclusion: Rethinking Normalcy, Identity, and Disability in Theological Terms, Thomas Reynolds lecture (2010)
  • Including Children With Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities in Religious Education (2010-2013)
  • Presentations at state and national conferences (e.g., AAIDD, TASH, Tennessee Disability MegaConference)

Service & Technical Assistance

  • Consultation with Vanderbilt Divinity School on Theology and Disabilities course (2014)
  • Consults with area congregations on inclusion practices (ongoing)