a Special Needs Ministry Conference
Accessible Gospel 2019 is a special needs ministry conference designed to encourage and equip families and churches to reach and serve families affected by disability.  
We are so excited to bring both Stephanie Hubach and Lori Sealy to metro Chattanooga to lead this effort to encourage us all in ministry. We hope you will join us for a weekend of learning!

We'll begin on Friday afternoon with sessions specifically geared to pastors and end with a concert by Lori Sealy open to the public on Friday evening. Saturday morning will start the main conference day with a key-note address from Stephanie Hubach. Multiple conference session tracks will be available throughout the day for those just beginning special needs ministry as well as those who are seasoned leaders. Lisa Mattheiss, PJ Crouch, Pastor Wayne Chasteen, and others with experience developing special needs ministries will be joining us to cover various topics related to beginning, growing, and maintaining an effective disability ministry.
Location
Concord Baptist Church
7025 East Brainerd Road
Chattanooga, TN 37421
Date & Time
September 27, 2019, 12:00 PM - September 28, 2019 - 5:00 PM
Accessible Gospel Conference Schedule
12:00-5:00pm
Friday, September 27, 2019
11:00am - Registration Opens
Noon - Welcome & Lunch Served
12:15pm - Keynote with Stephanie Hubach
1:00pm - Family Panel
3:45pm - From One Pastor to Another
4:45pm  - Summary & Conclusion
5:00pm -Vendor Visits

7:30-8:30pm
FREE CONCERT BY LORI SEALY - Friday, September 27, 2019
8:00AM-5:00pm
Saturday, September 28, 2019
7:00am - Registration Opens/Breakfast
8:00am - Welcome, Worship with Lori Sealy, and Keynote with Stephanie Hubach
9:00am - Breakout Session #1
10:30am - Breakout Session #2
11:45-12:30pm - Lunch & Networking
12:30pm - Breakout Session #3
2:00pm - Breakout Session #4
3:30pm - Breakout Session #5
4:45pm - Conclusion/closing
5:00pm - Final Visits to Vendors

Accessible Gospel Conference Breakout Sessions
SPECIAL NEEDS MINISTRY 101 - This track was specifically designed for those who are new to special needs ministry.  These topics may be especially helpful for those who have a desire to begin special needs ministry but haven't yet done so or those who have been involved in ministry five years or less.

Inclusion Confusion? Skills for Building a Team Between Pastors & Special Needs Ministry – One of the greatest challenges to special needs ministry development is the breakdown of communication between pastoral staff and special needs ministry leadership. We frequently hear accounts that pastors and leadership spend more time at odds than working as a team. A pastor and a special needs ministry coordinator will walk through communication strategies that have made their relationship work effectively.
Speakers: Wayne Chasteen & Lisa Mattheiss
Specifically applicable to: Special Needs Ministry Leadership, Pastoral Staff, Children’s Ministry Leadership

Autism 101 – What Does Autism Feel Like? Lori speaks from her own personal experience living with autism and also from the vantage point of a parent of a son on the spectrum. Lori’s insights into how autism impacts her daily life, her family dynamics, and her relationships will be invaluable regardless of your relationship to someone on the spectrum. Understanding and empathy enables us to then think outside the box when we consider supports and accommodations for those living life on the spectrum
Speaker: Lori Sealy
Specifically applicable to: Parents, Special Needs Ministry Leadership, Children’s Ministry Leadership, Youth/Adult Ministry Leadership, Pastoral Staff, Professionals

Inclusion & Support Strategies for Youth/Teens with “Invisible Disabilities” – Living life with a diagnosis of “high functioning _______” means life is easier, right? Not generally. Those with invisible disabilities fall through the cracks more easily because their challenges are less visible. Listen as Trish shares a success story of her own son’s journey through his years in youth group with “high functioning autism”. You'll hear how one youth leader made all the difference in Caelan's relationships with his peers and with his God. Trish will discuss many of the transitions and strategies Marty employed as he prayed his way through making sure that Caelan truly belonged to his youth group.
Speaker: Trish Cox
Specifically applicable to: Special Needs Ministry Leaderships, Children’s Ministry Leadership, Youth Pastors, Young Adult Leadership, Pastoral Staff

Panel – Addressing Needs of Siblings of Children with Special Needs – Many times in the challenges of raising a child with special needs, siblings get left behind. It isn’t intentional. It just happens because of the sheer volume of time and attention necessary to care for the child with special needs. So how do you minister directly to those who are often forgotten? This panel will share insights from their own journey as a sibling to a child with special needs. Emotions, logistics, inclusion strategies and relationships will be discussed as siblings share their stories. Ideas for parents and ministry personnel to specifically minister to unique needs of siblings will be offered.
Speakers: Helen Brunner, Andrew Piper
Specifically applicable to: Parents, Special Needs Ministry Leadership, Children’s Ministry Leadership, Youth Pastors, Pastoral Staff


Basic Disability Etiquette & Caregiver Etiquette – Those new to ministry and interactions with those with special needs and their families often worry about what to say and do. “Will I hurt their feelings?” “What if I do something wrong?” PJ Crouch will walk attendees through basic disability etiquette from his own experience. This workshop will end with some ideas for interactions with caregivers as well.
Speaker: PJ Crouch
Specifically applicable to: Special Needs Ministry Leadership, Children’s Ministry Leadership, Youth Pastors, Pastoral Staff



SPECIAL NEEDS MINISTRY 201 - This tracks was specifically designed for those who have been involved in special needs ministry for 5 years or more and are looking for the next level of resources and information to build and grow their existing ministry.

Teaching Social Boundaries and Purity to those with Developmental and Intellectual Disabilities - Can they learn? How much do we tell them? What will happen if we tell them? Do they really need to know? Barry and Michal Jones have raised four young adults, one of which is on the autism spectrum. They will share not only the Biblical basis for teaching social and spiritual boundaries, but practical ways they taught their children and others in their church ministry.
Speakers: Barry & Michal Jones
Specifically applicable to: Parents, Youth Pastor, Children’s Ministry Leadership, Special Needs Ministry Leadership

Compassion Fatigue: Burnout, Depression, & Exhaustion – Special needs ministry can be exhausting. Special needs caregiving can be exhausting. Many special needs ministry personnel are providing significant caregiving to people with disabilities on both personal and ministry levels. How do you care for yourself in the midst of caring for others? What are the warning signs of burnout? How does burnout differ from depression? How can you develop resiliency for co-occurring long-term ministry to your family member with special needs and to the body of Christ? Where and how do you draw boundaries? Insights will be offered by two caregiving ministry leaders who have both been serving their families and the church for decades, learned hard life lessons from burnout, and want to help you pursue a healthier path!
Speakers: Stephanie Hubach/Lisa Mattheiss
Specifically applicable to: Special Needs Ministry Leadership, Pastoral Staff, Chaplain

Spiritual Growth of Caregivers in the Middle of Chronic Care – Appointments, crises, diagnoses, education, medical, and social barriers – how do you contribute to the spiritual care of caregivers when they are in the middle of chronic care? Families say please don’t make excuses for them not to be involved in Bible study or service. They need to be involved. This session will share ways to facilitate parental involvement even while they are caring for someone with chronic condition. It will offer ways to help families balance caregiving with worship, education, and service.
Speaker: DR Fraley, Kelly Reynolds
Specifically applicable to: Caregivers, Parents, Special Needs Ministry Leadership, Children’s Ministry Leadership, Life Group Leaders, Adult Teachers, Pastoral Staff 

Answering Challenges to the Gospel - There are several common challenges to understanding the gospel for teens and adults with disabilities and those who struggle to logically process abstract concepts. Lori will share from her own experience effective responses to questions as a former atheist and person with autism and as a concrete thinker.
Speaker – Lori Sealy
Specifically applicable to: Parents, Caregivers, Children’s Ministry Leadership, Youth Ministry Leadership, Life Group Leaders, Adult Teachers, Pastoral Staff, Chaplain



COUNSELING & BEHAVIOR TRACK - This track was designed to help attendees understand what could be behind behaviors that are often the greatest obstacle to being part of a church environment.  New understanding should foster compassion and grace and a display of the unconditional love of Christ.


Why Do They Do That?  Understanding the Impact of Early Childhood Trauma and Resulting Behaviors - When children and youth show up at church without a diagnosis or apparent disability, but with difficult behaviors, the first response is to assume that this is a bad case of the sin nature. However, oftentimes early childhood trauma, abuse, neglect, foster/adoption processes, and unaccommodated sensory challenges can impact a child’s ability to cope in their environment. Matt will guide participants to understanding how early adverse childhood experiences can often show up as behavior that typical methods of discipline will only make worse. Attendees will leave with a better understanding to recognize and understand children’s behaviors and with some basic strategies for response.
Speaker: Matt McUmber
Specifically applicable to: Parents (especially foster/adoptive), Caregivers, Children’s Ministry Leadership, Special Needs Ministry Leadership, Youth Leadership, Pastoral Staff

Taking the Fear Out of Mental Health Diagnoses – Even in 2019, stigma still exists around mental health challenges, especially inside the church. Matt McUmber will debunk myths, and provide definitions and descriptions of some of the most common mental health diagnoses. He will talk through their primary symptoms and challenges in church environments and basic strategies for support by the church.
Speaker: Matt McUmber
Specifically applicable to: Children’s Ministry Leadership, Special Needs Ministry Leadership, Youth Ministry Leadership, Chaplains, Life Group Leadership, Pastoral Staff

Foster Care/Adoption: When Love is NOT Enough – Sometimes there is a notion that once a child is removed from an unstable environment and has been sent to a stable foster or adoptive home that eventually love will win and the child will be healed from the effects of their adverse childhood experiences. Almost anyone who has cared for someone who has come out of foster care/adoption scenarios will tell you sometimes love just isn’t enough. Sometimes therapy, support groups, counseling, and medical treatment just aren’t enough. Matt will explain the symptoms and impact of fetal alcohol syndrome, reactive attachment disorders, abuse and neglect on children and families and offer ways churches can support families who are fostering and/or who have adopted both domestically and internationally. His presentation will be supplemented with a family’s story as Amanda Alexander shares her family’s continuing story of adoption and searching for support and resources for Anna.
Speaker: Matt McUmber & Amanda Alexander
Specifically applicable to: Parents (especially foster/adoptive), Caregivers, Children’s Ministry Leadership, Special Needs Ministry Leadership, Youth Ministry Leadership, Pastoral Staff

Mental Health & The Church – Overview of book by Steve Grcevich
Is your church a welcome place for everyone? Weekend worship services, Christian education, small group ministry, and service opportunities are activities critical to growing in faith in Christ. Yet the church across North America struggles to include families of children, teens, and adults who have common mental health conditions. In Mental Health and the Church, Dr. Stephen Grcevich lays the groundwork for an inclusion ministry that is flexible enough to be used by churches of any size or denomination. He highlights 7 barriers that families encounter when they begin attending a local church and offers strategies for overcoming them. Joni White will be presenting an overview of the book to help churches lay the foundation for structuring ministry programs for those with often “invisible” disabilities.
Speaker – Joni White
Specifically applicable to: Children’s Ministry Leadership, Youth Ministry Leadership, Special Needs Ministry Leadership,  Pastoral Staff, Mental Health Professionals

Autism & Suicide: Increased Risk & Role of the Church – Autism is often accompanied by other mental health related challenges, including an increased risk of suicidal ideations. How great is the need to come alongside individuals who appear “high functioning” in many arenas of their life, but struggle quietly in the background? How do we recognize their (many times silent) pleas for help? What can the church do? Matt McUmber will address the statistics and available resources from a clinical perspective and Kim Brunner will share her story processing an adult diagnosis and its relationship to other mental health diagnoses. Both Matt and Kim will share ways that churches can come alongside individuals to support them in their most difficult days.
Speaker: Matt McUmber & Kim Brunner
Specifically applicable to: Parents, Caregivers, Children’s Ministry Leadership, Youth Ministry Leadership, Adult Ministry, Special Needs Ministry Leadership, Pastoral Staff, Professionals


FAMILY TRACK : These breakout sessions were specifically designed for families, caregivers, and those in the church who may be walking alongside families and want a better understanding of their challenges.

"God, WHY?"  Reframing the Concept of Suffering - How do you process the onset of disability or onset of a new diagnosis? Is it ok to lament a diagnosis? How do you process feelings in light of what you know about the Bible? Cale will share his own journey through reframing the concept of suffering in light of Scriptural theology of suffering and the hope he found in that journey. Presenting with Cale will be one of the pastors who walked alongside him in the journey from despair to hope.
Speaker: Dr. Cale Horne & Pastor Chuck Barrett
Specifically applicable to: parents, caregivers, chaplains, pastor staff, Special Needs Ministry leadership, anyone who is currently in throes of suffering or who might walk alongside someone who is suffering

Autism 101 – What Does Autism Feel Like?  Lori speaks from her own personal experience living with autism but also from the vantage point of a parent of a son on the spectrum. Lori’s insights into how autism impacts her day to day life, her family dynamics, and her relationships will be invaluable regardless of your relationship to someone on the spectrum. Understanding and empathy enables us to then think outside the box when we consider supports and accommodations for those living life on the spectrum
Speaker: Lori Sealy
Specifically applicable to: Parents, Special Needs Ministry Leadership, Children’s Ministry Leadership, Youth/Adult Ministry Leadership, Pastoral Staff, Professionals

Roadblocks or Opportunities?  Broadening our Definition of the Mission Field - What happens when I can’t do what God has called me to do or can’t serve the way I used to because of disability or caregiving? Joni will share ways to look at the “new normal” for potential ministry opportunities in their new sphere of influence. Not only will this broadening of the mission field reach new people with the Gospel, but also will help combat isolation that frequently accompanies a diagnosis.
Speaker: Joni White
Specifically applicable to: Caregivers, Parents, SNM Personnel, Chaplains, Counselors< Pastoral Staff 

Understanding the Unique Needs of Fathers -
Fathers have a tendency to need to “fix” things for their families, but disability can’t be “fixed”. How do fathers process disability, support their family, and contribute to the spiritual growth of their family in the process? These fathers will share from their various stories the multiple needs of their families as well as ways their church has supported their journey and given them opportunity to serve.
Speaker: Panel – DR Fraley, Cale Horne, Greg Fricks, & Skyler Phillips
Specifically applicable to: Parents, Caregivers, Adult Ministry/Life Group Ministry Leadership, SNM Personnel, Pastoral Staff

Life, Marriage & Asking for Help - It has been said that what doesn’t break you makes you stronger. How can you keep your marriage and family from being broken apart by disability? We will discuss ways that churches can support families and marriages. Many times life is so overwhelming parents don’t even know what to ask for or how to ask when their marriage and family is in trouble. This session will include a discussion of ways families can ask for help when they need it, for themselves, their marriages, and their families and will offer many ideas of ways that churches have come alongside families in a practical way to provide real support to their lives and marriages.
Speaker: Joni White
Specifically applicable to: Caregivers, Parents, SNM Personnel


PASTORS TRACK : These sessions have been specifically selected to equip pastors as they seek to understand more about those with disabilities in their congregation and to provide practical strategies for promoting belonging in the context of the whole Body of Christ

Inclusion Confusion? Skills for Building a Team Between Pastors & Special Needs Ministry – One of the greatest challenges to special needs ministry development is the breakdown of communication between pastoral staff and special needs ministry leadership. We frequently hear accounts that pastors and leadership spend more time at odds than working as a team. A pastor and a special needs ministry coordinator will walk through communication strategies that have made their relationship work effectively.
Speakers: Wayne Chasteen & Lisa Mattheiss
Specifically applicable to: Special Needs Ministry Leadership, Pastoral Staff, Children’s Ministry Leadership

Answering Challenges to the Gospel - There are several common challenges to understanding the gospel for teens and adults with disabilities and those who struggle to logically process abstract concepts. Lori will share from her own experience effective responses to questions as a former atheist and person with autism and as a concrete thinker.
Speaker – Lori Sealy
Specifically applicable to: Parents, Caregivers, Children’s Ministry Leadership, Youth Ministry Leadership, Life Group Leaders, Adult Teachers, Pastoral Staff, Chaplain

Mental Health & The Church – Overview of book by Steve Grcevich
Is your church a welcome place for everyone? Weekend worship services, Christian education, small group ministry, and service opportunities are activities critical to growing in faith in Christ. Yet the church across North America struggles to include families of children, teens, and adults who have common mental health conditions. In Mental Health and the Church, Dr. Stephen Grcevich lays the groundwork for an inclusion ministry that is flexible enough to be used by churches of any size or denomination. He highlights 7 barriers that families encounter when they begin attending a local church and offers strategies for overcoming them. Joni White will be presenting an overview of the book to help churches lay the foundation for structuring ministry programs for those with often “invisible” disabilities.
Speaker – Joni White
Specifically applicable to: Children’s Ministry Leadership, Youth Ministry Leadership, Special Needs Ministry Leadership,  Pastoral Staff, Mental Health Professionals


Understanding the Unique Needs of Fathers
Fathers have a tendency to need to “fix” things for their families, but disability can’t be “fixed”. How do fathers process disability, support their family, and contribute to the spiritual growth of their family in the process? These fathers will share from their various stories the multiple needs of their families as well as ways their church has supported their journey and given them opportunity to serve.
Speaker: Panel – DR Fraley, Cale Horne, Greg Fricks, & Skyler Phillips
Specifically applicable to: Parents, Caregivers, Adult Ministry/Life Group Ministry Leadership, SNM Personnel, Pastoral Staff

Life, Marriage & Asking for Help - It has been said that what doesn’t break you makes you stronger. How can you keep your marriage and family from being broken apart by disability? We will discuss ways that churches can support families and marriages. Many times life is so overwhelming parents don’t even know what to ask for or how to ask when their marriage and family is in trouble. This session will include a discussion of ways families can ask for help when they need it, for themselves, their marriages, and their families and will offer many ideas of ways that churches have come alongside families in a practical way to provide real support to their lives and marriages.
Speaker: Joni White
Specifically applicable to: Caregivers, Parents, SNM Personnel


Conference Speakers
Whether you are a pastor, ministry leader, new volunteer, family, or professional, there is much to be learned from the speakers joining us for Accessible Gospel 2019.  They bring not only their professional and technical knowledge, but their personal experiences as caregivers and persons living with the effects of disability themselves.  We are grateful for their commitment to share what they have learned with others on the journey.  Come and learn with us!
Stephanie Hubach
Lancaster, PA
Mother and Caregiver, Author of Same Lake Different Boat, Coming Alongside People Touched by Disability, National Conference Speaker, Research Fellow, Seminary Instructor at Covenant Theological Seminary.
Lori Sealy
Ocean Springs, MS
Mother, Singer, Songwriter, Conference Speaker, Worship Leader, Church Planters for Presbyterian Churches of America
Lisa Mattheiss
Chattanooga, TN
Mother, Caregiver, Special Needs Ministry NonProfit Director, Conference Speaker, Special Needs Ministry Coordinator at Christ First Church
Wayne Chasteen
Chickamauga, GA
Caregiver, Singer, Songwriter, Evangelist, Pastor of Christ First Church.
Charles "Chuck" Barrett
Signal mountain, TN
Father, Professor of Theology Assistant Pastor Wayside Presbyterian Church and adjunct professor at Belhaven University
Trish Cox
Soddy Daisy, TN
Mother and Caregiver, Educational Advocate, Parent Educator and Mentor, LifeLine Board Member
Kelly Reynolds, CCC-SLP
Chattanooga, TN
Mother and Caregiver, Social Worker, Special Educator, Speech Language Pathologist for Hamilton County Department of Education .
Matt McUmber, LCSW,     CADC II, ICADC
Ringgold, GA
Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Addictions Counselor, Director of Behavioral Health for North Georgia Healthcare, Adjunct Graduate Professor at Southern Adventist University and University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, Clinical Director of FrontLine Counseling Center.
Barry & Michal Jones
LafAyette, GA
Parents and Caregivers
Barry - Music Minister, Sunday School and Youth Ministry Leadership, Firefighter/EMT
Michal - Educational Advocacy, Parent Mentor for Walker County Schools,
LifeLine Board Members and Special Needs Ministry advocates at Peavine Baptist Church
Dr. Cale Horne
Signal Mountain, TN
Father and Caregiver, Researcher, Author, and Associate Professor of Political Science at Covenant College, Founder & Developer of Chattanooga Inclusive Education Working Group/Educational Advocate for Systemic Change in Hamilton County Schools.
Virginia Piper
Ringgold, GA
Mother and Caregiver, Air Force Med Tech, Registered Nurse, Special Educator, Disability and Education Advocate, Board Member, Parent and Educator Trainer, Ministry to Women through Ashes to Beauty.
Joni White
Marshfield, WI
Mother and Caregiver, Dental Hygienist, Children's Ministry Leadership,  Special Education Advocate, LifeLine Parent Mentor and Board Member, ABIDE Special Needs Ministry Director of North Ridge Church.
PJ Crouch
Chattanooga, TN
Caregiver, Senior at Moody Bible Institute with major in Ministry Leadership - Special Needs Ministry focus, LifeLIne staff, College and Career Ministry Leadership at Christ First Church, and Special Needs Ministry Advocate based on his own experiences with disability and church.
Captain Skyler Phillips
Chattanooga, TN
Father and Caregiver, Emergency Medical Technical, Captain and Trainer with Chattanooga Fire Department, .Community Disability Advocate, Developer/Trainer for LifeLine's SNAP (Special Needs Awareness Program) 
Dr. Kim Brunner,
 BASS, MMINN, DM
Ringgold, GA
Mother and Caregiver, Bachelors in Social Services from Belhaven University, Doctorate of Ministry in Biblical Counseling from Covington Theological Seminary, Chaplain with Local Law Enforcement,  Board Member, Job Coach, Counselor at FrontLine Counseling Center, Hope Kids volunteer at Christ First Church, Mental Health Advocate based on her own experiences with disability and the church 
David Rodney Fraley
CHattanooga, TN
Father and Caregiver, Film Director, Speaker, Writer, Educator, Sunday School Teacher at Lookout Mountain Presbyterian Church..
Amanda Alexander, MBA
RINGGOLD, GA
Mother and Caregiver, Bachelor of Arts in Art History/East & Central European Studies, Masters in Business Administration, Leadership, Currently Pursuing Ph.D. in Public Policy, Adoption and Special Needs Advocate, Moderates Adoptive Parents Persevering Support Group online.
Greg Fricks
Fort Oglethorpe, GA
Husband and Father, Caregiver, Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering Technology,  Mechanical Engineer at Aztec Industries 
Helen Brunner
Ringgold, GA
Sibling & Caregiver, Special Educator at Signal Centers, Advocate for Students with Disabilities
Ezra Reynolds
CHattanooga, TN
Father and Caregiver, Bachelor of Science: Computer Science/Information Systems and Electrical Engineering. Currently Serves as Assistive Technology Design Specialist at Signal Centers and Audio/Visual Technician with East Ridge Presbyterian Church
Marty Thompson
Texas
Graduate from Louisiana Tech University, Masters Degree from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary,
35 Years in Ministry,
20 Years in Student Ministry, Models Inclusive Student Ministry
Andrew Piper
Huntsville, AL
Sibling, 2010 Graduate Chattanooga Center for Creative Arts, Camp Counselor & Mentor, Works for Apple while a Business Student at Calhoun Community College
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Traveling In From Out of Town?
Coming into the conference from out of town?  We are ready for you! Hampton Inn East Ridge is about 7 minutes from the conference site.  The booking link is below. A courtesy block of 13 rooms has been reserved at a reduced rate.  It includes  ADA accessible rooms that are a mix of hearing/mobility accessible. They are also a mix of single kings, doubles, queens, and kings with pullout sofas.  The cutoff date is set to cutoff at midnight on September 5th so all reservations need to be made by then to get the reduced rate. At that point, any rooms that haven’t be reserved will be released back to the general public. You can book directly from the link below or you can choose to call in and make a reservation. Just tell the front desk the dates and that you are staying with Accessible Gospel Conference.

Make Hampton Inn Reservations Here
Contact Us
Have questions about Accessible Gospel 2019?  
We will be happy to answer them. Send us a message here and we will get back to you as quickly as we can.

Accessible Gospel 2019 Planning Team
LifeLine, Inc.

Accessible Gospel 2019 Sponsors
 Join us on September 27-28, 2019
We look forward to hosting you!
Learn More About LifeLine, Inc.
Location
Concord Baptist Church
7025 East Brainerd Road Chattanooga, TN 37421
We are so grateful to our hosts for this conference, Concord Baptist Church.  The church is located right off of Interstate 75 in Chattanooga.  

Concord Baptist Church
7025 E Brainerd Road,
Chattanooga, TN 37421

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