One local church has been working on a new program since the spring to ensure that the church is accessible and has programs to benefit everyone in the community.
Pastor Dwight Jones and Director Jody Duncan of Harvest Christian Centre are both excited to begin a new program for individuals and families with special needs at the church. The program is called FUSE and stands for Follower (of Christ), Unique (gifts and talents), Significant (to the kingdom of God), and Equal (and able to reach the world).
“FUSE, just like the word means, is meant to join or blend to make a single entity, which is what the body of Christ is called to be,” said Duncan. “We cannot be an active body if one member is missing and we are missing members that we hope this ministry will bring among us.”
Duncan said they have been working to get the program up and running “officially” since April, however, it has been something that has been discussed on and off for quite some time.
Duncan said work began in April to create a space that would accommodate various needs and would be inclusive for everyone.
“This ministry is important to me because I see the need in the community as well as in my own family,” said Duncan. “I have a son with Spastic Quad CP (Spastic Quadriplegia Cerebral Palsy)."
SQCP is the most severe form of cerebral palsy and usually means “loss of use of the whole body.” SQPC is caused by brain damage that occurs before, during, or shortly after birth and can be brought on by prematurity, fetal infections or stroke, maternal infections or medical conditions, exposure to toxins, or medical negligence.
Duncan said that she has also worked in the area of special needs for more than 10 years starting in direct care, moving to case management, and spending the last five years as a special education teacher.
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“I was never able to fully grasp how many places, not just churches, were not accommodating to the needs of individuals who depend on accommodations until I was blessed with my son,” said Duncan.
FUSE will launch at the church’s Vacation Bible School which begins on Sunday from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. VBS will run Monday through Wednesday from 6 to 8 p.m.
Following VBS, FUSE will continue every Sunday at 10 a.m. during the regular worship time.
Directors of FUSE will need a special needs registration form filled out prior to a child attending the ministry. Duncan said it is easiest to meet a child’s needs if the form is filled out in advance, but forms can be filled out Sunday morning and the team will do their best to accommodate that child.
FUSE works through a “buddy” system where individuals with special needs are paired with another child close to their age. A buddy’s job is to be a friend and assist the child in being fully active in the ministry. Adults will be on staff to mentor or assist the buddies if needed. The buddy program currently serves students in grades K-5.
Registration forms can be found online at reapnow.org, the FUSE Special Needs Ministry Facebook Page, or picked up at the church office. Anyone with questions can contact Jody Duncan at firstname.lastname@example.org
“This ministry is not just about serving individuals with special needs but also making sure they (and their families) are an equal part of the church body,” said Duncan. “Everyone has something to contribute to the work of Christ and I believe that as we serve these children and their families, we will find that they touch our lives far more than we touch theirs.”