Special needs ministry at Centre Street Church

Special needs ministry at Centre Street Church

Faith Today

It isn't unsual to be greeted by an individual with special needs when you visit Centre Street Church in Calgary. If you attend regularly, you’ll also hear people with special needs read Scripture or perform in a bell choir.

At Centre Street, whose thousands of weekly attendees and multiple campuses make it one of Canada’s biggest churches, special needs individuals are not pushed aside and ignored. They are active members, brothers and sisters in Christ, says Corinne Thomas, pastor, special needs ministry. She describes the ministry as "a Christ-centred community of faith where all are welcome, all belong, all are encouraged to grow in their faith, and all may discover and develop their spiritual gifts."

She estimates about 250 families are involved in the various programs offered by the church. "It has groups designed for them to learn about Jesus and grow in their relationship with Jesus. It has support and resources for those who want opportunities to learn and grow in the typical church environments. It is also there to be a support to families and siblings," she says.

"There are activities for children and adults with special needs, as well as activities for moms, dads, siblings and the whole family as well. Finally, it is a resource for other churches to learn about how they can support people with special needs in their churches."

The adults or children involved usually have either a developmental disability or brain injury. Although families appreciate how the ministry helps them, Thomas notes it can require sacrifice on a family’s part to become involved. "Sometimes it is at the cost of having to move siblings and families from a church that they have been a part of and connected with for many years." –J. PAUL COOPER

Photo: Centre Street Church