In January I shared about a school where there is room for special needs. Today I want to brag a little about Community Christian Reformed Church, where those with special needs are also embraced.
I have been a member of a Christian congregation in Kitchener, Ontario, for nearly ten years. This community of believers has room for those with special needs, and it stands out.
· On Sunday mornings during the school year, a group called “Special Angels” is dismissed along with the Sunday School classes. Its participants have ranged in age from pre-school to adult. The leaders and helpers gear a Bible lesson, music and crafts to the ability level of these special people.
· This community is part of a larger group of churches. One of its affiliates in Ottawa organizes a week-long mission trip for youth who could not otherwise participate in a service-based event over the summer. One to two volunteer mentors are matched with each participant in order to encourage and help him or her make the most of this experience away from home. The parents of these participants are also blessed with the knowledge that their child is well cared for.
· Tuesday evenings a program called “Friendship” is offered. Dozens of teens and adults who live either at home with their parents or in area group homes converge on our wheelchair accessible facility. There is exuberant singing, time to share birthdays and happy occasions, prayer, Bible stories and then one-on-one time with volunteer mentors, most of whom attend the church. In the spring and approaching Christmas, this group leads a service for the entire congregation through song, speaking and drama. Each time I’m struck by how authentic their worship is; we can learn so much from it.
· This week I had a minor role in the Vacation Bible School program held at the church. I witnessed the leaders dealing with a particular child, who became disruptive towards the end of the second morning. They conferred with the child’s mother and aimed to understand the child’s needs. As a result, one leader stepped away from her other roles in order to work one-on-one with this child for the remainder of the week. Instead of asking that the child stop coming (which, sadly, does happen at some places), this child and his family were embraced and given what they needed to be successful. I’m still moved by it.