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Can a parachute be used liturgically?

Yes, says Rev. Bob De Vries, and he should know. The retired CRC pastor has used a parachute, bells, banners, clapping, marching, and lots of singing at the unique worship services he leads at Cascades Fellowship Christian Reformed Church in Jackson, Mich.

De Vries and his wife, Alice, began the services in 2004 when they noticed that some families whose children had special needs were not able to worship together. While the rest of the family was in the sanctuary, the person with special needs would be with a helper in the fellowship room.

Now these families worship together at services specifically designed to serve their needs. Besides using motion, unusual objects, and singing, the special needs service offers predictability. Only one song is changed from week to week. The Lord’s Prayer is offered, with motions, at every service. The worship bulletin and overhead slides include pictures as well as words. “And if a child screams or runs around during the service, no one gets excited about that,” De Vries comments.

These services have become an outreach ministry for Cascades Fellowship. Since the summer of 2004, three new families have joined regularly in worship because they appreciate the inclusiveness of the service. A monthly support group, “Parenting Challenging Children,” grew out of the special-needs service.

If you would like more information about the special-needs ministries of Cascades Fellowship, contact Rev. Bob De Vries at 517-784-8034 or

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