A Place for All of Us
By Amy Smith | February 11, 2020
Being a member of St. Philip’s since 2005, I am still amazed at how often I learn of a ministry that has been going on for a long time, that I didn’t even know existed. Did you know that St. Philip’s offers a special needs Sunday School program for those individuals with disabilities whose families seek a place to worship and deepen their understanding of who God is and most importantly His love for them?
I believe scripture teaches us that God desires to have a relationship and be understood by all of his people. In Matthew 6:26, we are compared to the sparrows which He provides a nest and a place to sleep to demonstrate how vast and deep His love is for all people as we are ALL worth more than a sparrow. Hence the name of the class was born- Sparrows. This wonderful and important ministry was started approximately 11 years ago by two of our parishioners who saw a need for this service in our congregation. We continue to meet every Sunday during the 9:00 am service.
We individualize the curriculum and programming based on the needs of our students. We have a group of 7 passionate volunteers who have answered this call to ministry and are the key to its continuation. And more importantly, not all of them have professional backgrounds working with people with special needs, just a heart to serve and eyes to see their abilities and gifts.
Recently I surveyed our leaders to better understand why they choose to serve here. Two of them responded as follows:
“The class and the students renew my soul each week I get to teach them. I have loved getting to see both the physical and spiritual growth of our students and I know the spirit will continue to grow in them. As one of our kids always says it’s Jesus! And he is right the answer is always Jesus. I feel blessed that the kids have taught me as much as I have taught them.”– Elaine Osborne
“I was so happy to join a church that had a program designed to teach the love of God to people of all abilities.” -Chandler Runnels
I also asked them to share what their hopes were for this ministry and where they thought God was calling us to next. The answer that sums up best where we see this ministry going shared by Rachel Hill is that her hope and prayer for Sparrows and St. Philip’s in 2020 is that we continue to learn and be inspired to do great things for our students as we put into practice the teachings of our Lord, Jesus Christ.
So while I am so thankful for what we do and provide each week from 9:00-10:00 on Sunday, we all know that church and building faith happens in more than one hour per week. So I want to leave you with a challenge. It is my hope and prayer that in the coming year as a church community that the students in our class and their parents and siblings will be loved and affirmed by all in our church family. That is, as more of our members learn about this ministry it will be given the momentum to grow not just by adding students, but through increased opportunities for our students and their families to be included in the life of the church beyond 9:00-10:00 on Sunday morning.
Please pray about what that might look like and how God is opening your heart and mind to opportunities to include these friends in other ministries and fellowship times throughout the year. And if you think God might be calling you to serve in this ministry or know someone looking for a class like this for their child or adult student, please don’t hesitate to reach out to Sarah Koniar for more information.