Helping Others Participate Fully in the Life of the Church

Helping Others Participate Fully in the Life of the Church

Last fall, Pastor Dave Vroege of All Nations CRC in Halifax, N.S., approached Disability Concerns to ask for help. A woman in his congregation wanted to have her baby son baptized, but her anxiety about being in front of church made her hesitant. Disability Concerns gave Vroege several helpful suggestions about anxiety disorders and how he could accomodate this woman’s needs in the service.

After the baptism, Vroege wrote, “Your suggestions were so helpful in equipping us for this baptism. We did a practice run and had the baptism in our evening service where there are far fewer people. It was a joy for the mom, for her extended family, and for all of us there.”

About that same time, Brian, who has Cerebral Palsy, approached Vroege. Brian wanted to profess his faith publicly but was concerned about having to physically make his way to the front of the church. Based on Disability Concerns’ suggestion, Vroege told him, “That's fine. I'll come to you."

At the service scheduled for Brian’s profession, Vroege made his way to where he was sitting. Vroege had to walk down the aisle on crutches because he had recently injured his ankle. When he arrived at Brian’s seat, he asked Brian, “Who do you trust as your Lord and Savior?”

Brian replied, "Jesus."

Next Vroege asked whether Brian would commit to following Jesus and to joining with his new siblings in Christ in ministry. Brian replied by saying yes over and over. Before that moment, Vroege had been wondering whether it was appropriate to ask Brian, "Will you participate fully in the life of the church?" He realized it was just right.

“In that moment, and with Brian's shining eyes matching his confident yes, I realized that Brian is fully a part of our congregation and that he already is participating as fully as he is able,” said Vroege.

Following this meaningful service, “more than one worshiper commented on how strangely fitting that Brian, who has Cerebral Palsy, was ministered to by a pastor on crutches,” said Vroege. “God works in mysterious ways.”

About the Author

Mark Stephenson is the director of Disability Concerns.

See comments (1)


Thank you to Pastor Dave and All Nations CRC (and to Rev. Mark Stephenson of Disability Concerns) for accommodating these requests so that everyone can fully participate. 

Our church was privileged to serve the Lord’s Supper at a nearby group home facility recently. I was very impressed by how our church and the group hone worked so closely together to accommodate the different needs of those present, and how everyone participated together. Glory to God for the ways He reveals Himself in, around, and through our lives.