Voice of Care has been making strides in the Michigan District with the mission to help the Church reach the “differently-abled” for Christ. The Chicago-area ministry is now on its second foray into the Great Lakes state, this time bringing the introduction to disability ministry training workshop, “Set to Serve: Reaching the Differently-Abled for Christ,” to Grand Rapids on Saturday, April 1, 2017, at St. Matthew Lutheran Church.
Deaconess Kris Blackwell, Executive Director of Voice of Care, and her ministry team of pastors, deaconesses and lay people, will reprise the five models of disability ministry previously presented in the Detroit suburbs last September.
“We had close to a dozen churches and organizations represented at the fall session,” shared Blackwell. “The involvement level was high-caliber, the training was well-received, and it was a positive experience for all involved. At the end of the day, there was no doubt that we would be returning to Michigan.”
Among those in attendance was Michigan District Parish Nurse Coordinator Christie Hansard. “After attending the Set to Serve workshop, I know there is so much more we can do,” she remarked. “Now we can think outside the box on how people with disabilities can participate in the life of the congregation. This is a perfect ministry for parish nurses because it combines our compassion with our profession and the resources Voice of Care makes available to us.”
As development director with Lutheran Special Education Ministries, Liz Roe’s daily work involves garnering support for ministry-centered services to people with disability. “I was genuinely touched by how easy it could be to integrate a special service for our friends who need alternatives to a traditional service,” she shared. “On the Life Committee of St. Peter Lutheran in Macomb Township, I did a report on Voice of Care and Set to Serve, and our members are intrigued by what the next steps might be for our church to explore having some kind of adaptive resources for the community and our members.”
Mallorie Smith, a Family Life major at Concordia University in Arbor, attended the workshop along with one of her professors and a fellow classmate. “I love that this workshop applied to a church setting and how to cater worship to special needs people,” she commented. “I really enjoyed participating in the church service at the beginning … it demonstrated to me what a special needs church service looks like.”
The ultimate goal of Voice of Care’s ministry as a whole, and of the specific initiative to equip Michigan’s LCMS churches for disability ministry, is consistent with our Lord’s directive to share His love and proclaim His message of salvation to all people, regardless of ability.
Photo caption: At one of eight disability awareness stations, Set to Serve workshop participants experience some of the frustrations that come with a lack of manual dexterity, a condition that is often prevalent with persons who have cognitive impairments, Cerebral Palsy or related conditions. Photo courtesy of Voice of Care.