HEADLINES

New at St. Stephen’s: Family Service for Special Needs Children

           

Grace2Go at St. Stephen’s Church is hosting a service for families with special needs children the second Saturday of each month from 3 to 4:30. It begins at the church’s North Hall, 351 Main St. Grace2Go serves families with children who have autism, ADHD, epilepsy, Downs syndrome, and a variety of other special needs conditions and welcomes those from all Christian traditions. The next service, on December 9, will focus on the Christmas story.             

Grace2Go includes Gospel teaching, music, play and activities that allow for noise and moving about in an accepting and judgment-free atmosphere. It offers an opportunity to learn about Jesus in a way that is understandable to the children’s individual learning levels.  

The experience of Erika and her 12-year-old son, Isaac (pictured), who has autism, perhaps best describes what this new program means to families. “As Isaac grew, it became clear that he was not going to be able to attend church,” Erika said. “The people, the music, the flowers, the organ, the behavioral expectations were beyond his ability to handle.” She was providing a spiritual life for him, but there was one thing she could not do at home alone.  “I desperately wanted Isaac to receive communion,” she said.                                                                  

Erika described their first Grace2Go service: “When we gathered to process from North Hall to the church, he suddenly saw how it was all coming together and said, ‘It’s a parade!’ And I said, ‘Yes, it is!’ We came over to the church, and he said the Lord's Prayer under his breath with me, and then we lined up for communion. It didn't matter that he couldn't keep his body still or his mouth from making noise. 
Mother Whitney [the Rev. Whitney Altopp] offered the communion wafer and said ‘Take, eat,’ and he took, and he ate, and it happened! Isaac had communion. My prayers were answered.”

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