One of the churches where we live offers a monthly service called Rhythms of Grace. It was developed on the East Coast and is popping up in some creative and big hearted churches around the country.
The folks who brought it to our city describe it “as a worship service designed for people with sensory processing issues, such as autism, ADHD and sensory processing disorder. Rhythms of Grace offers a safe, warm environment for families to enjoy church together. All denominations welcome.”
Finding a church home can be as hard as finding any other public space for people with special needs and their care givers. Many people come to church for a time of peace, beauty and order – and those of us who know that “sometimes care giving stinks” have no illusions about how those in our care can chase those qualities right out of the room.
Some church goers will complain that their sacred time and space is being violated by special needs people. Others will express fear that “those kids” might pose a danger to other children in Sunday School. Still others will warn that the church doesn’t know how to respond to their “issues” and could face medical emergencies or legal problems.
But at the local church offering Rhythms of Grace, nobody flinches if a member of the congregation gets up and walks (or runs) around, generates some noise, explores the sanctuary or does pretty much anything else that’s not dangerous.
Some of the participants make spontaneous announcements. A number of folks from area group homes attend the service, and on a recent Sunday one gleefully proclaimed, “Good church! Good church!”
We hope that God finds more and more churches getting that kind of review from special needs folks and their care givers.