We're excited to share a personal testimony from Pam Abbott that highlights the respect and joy a family felt because of Rejoicing Spirits.
My sister Laurie was born with Down syndrome and has an intellectual disability. Laurie and I are 15 months apart in age; we have lived apart for most of our lives so we never attended church or had the opportunity to worship together. That is until four years ago when we went to our first Rejoicing Spirits Service at the Calvary Lutheran Church in West Chester.
From the time we pulled into the parking lot, we were embraced in a big symbolic hug from greeters who warmly welcomed us as we entered the church.
I couldn’t get over how friendly and accommodating everyone was to make sure our experience was a good one. Over the course of two years, Laurie became very comfortable and confident in her sense of 'belonging' at this service.
The things that fostered that for her were:
Being able to give her gifts of singing, prayer, encouragement, playing musical instruments and sharing her love for her 'neighbors.'
Having no one 'shush' her or restrict her way of worship—total acceptance.
Having the opportunity to make new friends with other individuals who are challenged and with those who are not.
Laurie moved to Pottstown two years ago and started going to the New Hanover Lutheran Church Rejoicing Spirit service with her housemates. I meet her there, and we sit together, except when she’s standing by the piano singing praises in her diva style.
We have been graciously welcomed into this service and are blessed by the wonderful volunteers who welcome us, feed us, play music for us, pray with us and worship God in a way that that is very interactive and inclusive.
Laurie gets to be a part of the service and not just an onlooker. She gets to bless and be blessed.
We all need to be able to give of ourselves and feel that sense of joy in sharing our unique gifts with others. It is a wonderful thing for a family to be able to worship together and not have to worry about all the 'what-ifs'.
What if my loved one speaks when the pastor is giving the sermon?
What if my loved one gets up and starts walking around?
What if he or she interrupts the service by asking a question, making noises, or walking up to the minister?
The freedom of movement, of voice, from judgment is invaluable to families.
Laurie and I are so happy we discovered how joyous and freeing this very special service is called Rejoicing Spirits.
Thank you for your support of Rejoicing Spirits and the joy it has sparked for hundreds of people around the nation.
We hope you will join us on Nov. 28 for #GivingTuesday, and help us reach our $500 goal to support the growth of Rejoicing Spirits to new locations around the United States. These funds will help Mosaic supplement the costs of training new congregations, as well as provide funding for churches who may not able to afford the $250 entry fee.
Thank you for your ministry with people with intellectual disabilities. We are incredibly grateful.
The Rev. Dr. David deFreese and The Rev. Dr. Jim Fruehling
Your gift will be doubled!
Thanks to a caring group of donors, your gifts to Rejoicing Spirits nationally on Giving Tuesday will be matched dollar-for-dollar up to $25,000 to support care for people with intellectual disabilities in Tanzania, through a partnership with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania (ELCT) Learn more.