“Good church!”

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.

2 thoughts on ““Good church!”

  1. WOW this is very exciting news! I stopped going to church many years ago for that reason. For a while when I did go, I would put my son in the 2 year old room… a wonderful lady kept the extra watchful eye on him, and they actually grew very close which of course made it easier for me to leave him in there so I could go to “big church”. One day after service I went to get him from the 2 year old room (by this time he was about 6 years old, but cognitively 2). As I stood in line with the other parents I heard the man infront of me complaining about “That tall boy in there needs to go, he doesn’t belong here… I don’t care what his issues are, but I don’t want my daughter being dumbed down by him. He could hurt any of our 2 year olds”. I couldn’t believe my ears! I tapped him on the shoulder and told him that “that tall boy” was MY son and he was autistic. I assured him his daughter wasn’t going to be “dumbed down” by him, infact he was very smart, and as for being hurt, yes he was taller but didn’t interact with the other kids and he didn’t hit or bite or do the other things typical 2 year olds sometimes did. and lastly being able to leave him there allowed me to go to church service. He told me he didn’t care and he planned on going to the pastor. I glanced over at his wife who stood there silently. For the first time I realized she was pregnant though I had seen her many times when I had been dropping my son off in the 2 year old room. I looked back at her husband and said I sure hope that your unborn child is born QUOTE “normal”, don’t worry about going to the pastor, I can praise my God without needing to come here to the likes of you! I sobbed when I got home. The one place I could go for 2 hours a week, to join with others in song, prayer, listening to a sermon, ponder about the sermon, sing and pray some more had just been torn away. It took me along time to stop beating myself up over not having stood my ground, but at that point the only fight I had left in me was to care for my son. I will keep any eye and ear out for a Rhythms of Grace church, while God is very much in my life, heart and soul, I very much would love the chance to call a church my home.

  2. Wynee, you did stand your ground, more than you realize! I wish your voice had been heard by the entire church. So many people haven’t a clue. I missed going to church for years and only now, I can go fairly often, by the grace of God and a man that He spoke to. We need our places of worship and there need to be more who allow US in there. If they do not allow our special-needs children a home, they do not allow us.

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