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The Feast: A place for my son, Max, to belong

03.07.18 | Special Needs | by Carla Niemann

The Feast: A place for my son, Max, to belong

    We found a place where, from the beginning, Max felt comfortable rolling his wheelchair right up and planting himself in front of the minister to listen.

    Would you like to visit The Feast?

    Based on the heavenly feast to which all are invited and included, The Feast is a worship service in which everyone belongs. It is our hope and prayer that this service is a welcome place for those with special needs, their families and friends, and all who have a heart for special needs. Join us each Sunday at 5:00 pm in Room 120, at the Mockingbird Campus of Highland Park United Methodist Church.

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    I love to read the newspaper, but these days it’s more of a luxury for me. Rarely do I get the chance to read the entire paper on a Sunday morning.

    But it was this time a year ago, on a Sunday morning as I sat at the kitchen table, that for some reason I turned right to an article written about a church in Highland Park with an afternoon service geared to kids and adults with special needs called The Feast.

    I only had to read it once; I knew right away Max and I would be visiting the Feast the following Sunday. We went, and the rest is history.

    It was love at first sight. We found a place where I reconnected with parents with whom I had lost touch when Max was three, as our lives went separate ways.

    We found a place where, from the beginning, Max felt comfortable rolling his wheelchair right up and planting himself in front of the minister to listen.

    We discovered a simple service led by a minister who quickly found a way to include Max in the service, and who each week takes special care so that everyone has a part to play. Before I knew it, Max, who is non-verbal by the way, was in the choir! Led by a director who makes Max feel included, even though he is the “silent choir boy.”

    We found a group of kind people who are tolerant of Max, even though he sometimes runs over their toes with his wheelchair while navigating the rows to pass the offering plate and serve communion.

    I don’t have to worry that Max will disturb anyone by rolling himself around or making his “noises” when he decides it’s time to throw in his two cents about the sermon. It brings me joy to see Max pay attention to the speakers in the service; sometimes rolling up to them so he can better listen and pay attention.  

    At first, I worried that he might be disturbing the service, but the thing is, no one cares!

    Not one stares. No one judges. Everyone celebrates us for who we are.

    Time and time again I have seen family members and other visitors attend the Feast who are so touched by this special thing happening every Sunday at a church in Highland Park.

    I feel so fortunate and thankful to have found this place.

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