The faith communities involvement with special needs has been up and down in passion and conviction but a new study released from Friendship Fellowship indicates that invitation is the key to involvement. One Executive Director of a large agency in Colorado claims that his national agency cherishes church involvement. “I wish more churches would get involved with our people,” he told DSN last week. Friendship Fellowship is a special church for people with special needs that meets at agency sites that have spaces and active day programs.
Friendship Fellowship currently has two active church plants in cooperation with Ancient Paths Evangelical Free Church in Denver and The Word and Spirit Church Network based in Colorado Springs. In the Springs the Special Needs Pastor is doing a unit published by Friendship Ministries called Expressing Faith in Jesus. Nella Uitvlugt the Executive Director of Friendship Ministries says that the curriculum is designed to “encourage church leaders to invite and enable people with intellectual disabilities to become full participants in the life of their congregations.”
Friendship Fellowship Colorado Springs
The Special Needs Pastor at Friendship Fellowship takes it one step further. “We plant special churches for people with special needs and in doing so inviting, encouraging, and enabling, participation in the blessing, the invitation, decision, Baptism, and participation in Communion. “In Denver the people come to us, in Colorado Springs, we go to the people and meet them where they are, physically, emotionally and in their disability. There are a few that can be involved as elders and deacons in the church body. “
Giving, Guides and Growing
There are so many ways for the community to get involved. It takes giving time, gifts and investment in the lives of people with Intellectual Disabilities. The agencies typically do not give financially to the church, and that is where community outreach can get involved. “It costs an average of $22 a month per church member at Friendship Fellowship,” says the special needs pastor who raises his own support. “Our goal is to train church members in the communities that we serve and eventually new special needs pastors to guide and grow the model across the Front Range.” This helps to pay for curriculum, management and training costs and once we have 7 church plants located in Fort Collins/Loveland; Boulder; Aurora/Centennial; Lakewood, Canon City/Pueblo, in addition to our existing missions in Denver and Colorado Springs, we will be at critical mass.” 300 special needs church members; 300 guides and mentors, and 7 fully supported special needs pastors is the goal in the next three years. In the mean time, the model is being built and about to reach toddler status this week. Friendship Fellowship- Denver will turn 3 on March 1.
To get involved you are invited to e-mail Pastor Rich at Friendshipfellowship@juno.com.