Voice of Care is a Recognized Service Organization, and we strive to bring Ministry By and With People with Disabilities within local congregations. Voice of Care works with churches in building the Body of Christ by including people and families who are living with disabilities. These people are often marginalized by society. Our LCMS understanding of salvation by God’s grace not by anything we do – or our own abilities, is a message of great comfort.
Did you know 80% of people living with disabilities are unchurched? That means 8 out 10 people living with disabilities don’t know Jesus. Often this stems from a fear of rejection by churches themselves or the people within them. Voice of Care wants to break down this wall.
That was the motivation for the families to came together to create Voice of Care over 40 years ago. Large institutions were being broken up into community group homes. We realized the local congregations are the partners we need to “embrace, empower and engage” people living with disabilities within the Body of Christ. Sometimes these people are already part of the church but struggling with a sense of belonging.
The first thing we do is listen. Listen to the members, the leaders and look for ways to build that Culture of Belonging. In that listening we also engage people and families living with disabilities to gain an idea not only of their needs but their strengths as well. All members of the Body bring something to the table to serve. We do have tools which allow us to adapt to the needs of the congregation and the people they are serving. A very popular tool is Respite Companion Care Workshops. Due to age onset issues many churches are in need of a means to offer Spiritual Respite Care.
Another is our Jesus Time Worship tool. This is a worship format that could be an inclusive worship (based off of Divine Worship One) or an alternative worship, or even a small group worship brought into group homes. All Jesus Time Worships include an Invocation, Confession and Forgiveness, as well as songs, prayers and a Bible based message. Sometimes however the best place to start is with short Disability Awareness lessons. These work to ease the fears of people, bringing a general knowledge of disabilities and best practices for interaction.
In the past, Voice of Care has partnered with the Deaconesses in training program at the Seminary in Fort Wayne. St. John Lutheran in Indianapolis has partnered with us to include a Disability Ministry. They wanted to expand beyond the once-a-year prom style event. Now they are laying the foundations for monthly events. Such as a Thanksgiving meal, Christmas party, Bible studies, games, Fellowship and always with a mini Jesus Time Worship as part of the gathering. Voice of Care partners with St. John to help make this a vital, sustainable ministry.
To close, you will find most people living with disabilities are very similar to you. They want to be accepted, they have talents to share, and they are loved by the Father every bit as much as the typical person. At Voice of Care, we believe: All have been blessed to be a Blessing. If you would like to contact Voice of Care, please go to their website voiceofcare.org. Or email Melvin Faulkner, Executive Director at email@example.com, and Dennis Pieper, Director of Ministry Facilitators at firstname.lastname@example.org .