On Christmas Eve, 2019, Parables Community was featured in an article on the front page of the Daily Herald newspaper. https://www.dailyherald.com/news/20191224/everyone-belongs-west-dundee-ministry-embraces-those-with-special-needs
Pastor Jeanne attended the 2019 National Older Adult Conference of the Church of the Brethren during the first week in September. On Wednesday evening, September 4, she preached on “The Welcome Table” with the story of Peter and Cornelius in Acts 10 as her scripture text. Here is a link to the worship service which also includes Ted Swartz and Ken Medema. (Pastor Jeanne’s sermon starts at 1:12:48).
Every four years the Church of the Brethren holds a National Youth Conference (NYC) on a state university campus in Colorado. It’s a mountaintop event literally and figuratively. Thousands of youth come from all over the country and the world to worship, learn, serve, and have fun together. Worship is held in an arena with a band, youth leaders, and amazing preachers. All youth participate in small groups and workshops. Everyone has an opportunity to go hiking in the mountains or work on a service project. The week is often life-changing.
NYC also can be a little overwhelming. The setting and activities are new and unfamiliar, the environment can be loud and the social demand is heavy. This year we created a new space at NYC called The Oasis for any youth stressed by the sensory and social load. We lit the room softly with floor lamps and twinkle lights. We had bean bag chairs, large pillows, and soft blankets thrown on the floor. We provided fidgets of all kinds. There were coloring pages and puzzle books along with prayer stations with reflective and encouraging hands-on activities. The Oasis was open at free times during the day and evening for anyone to come and rest for a while.
Some interesting things happened from the provision of this space. It was immediately sought out and used by some autistic youth. They found a safe, undemanding space to land from the very beginning of the conference. For one youth with an anxiety disorder, just knowing The Oasis was available gave her the ability to cope.
The Oasis became a place where disabled youth could find resources and support. It was a place of understanding and reassurance which enabled youth, advisors, and parents to express their concerns. At the request of one family, we created a sensory area in the worship arena where the sound was not quite so loud and noise-reducing headphones and fidgets were provided. Buddies were found for a disabled youth in need of companionship. Assistance was found for those needing help getting from one place to another on campus.
The sensory area in worship and the Oasis became launching pads for some youth to brave engaging the rest of NYC activities. Several youth who at first felt like they “just couldn’t do this” found that they could because they had a place to rest and re-group. As the week progressed, anxious youth relaxed enough to venture out into new territory such as going to their small group without a parent or joining the rest of their youth group on the main floor in worship. It was fun to see them gradually relax, smile, and enjoy being at NYC.
It wasn’t only disabled, autistic, or anxious youth who benefited from The Oasis. Many individual and small groups of youth came to color and relax for a while. Advisors took a rest with a puzzle book. Some people just quietly made their way through the prayer stations in the room and then left. Even staff occasionally came in, found a quiet corner and a pillow and took a brief nap before returning to their work.
One of the great learnings we have received from creating both The Oasis and Parables Community is that when we provide these supportive and gracious spaces for autistic and intellectually or developmentally disabled friends, we also create a space that is more welcoming for all. In a stressful, often inhospitable world, how can we create more of these oases of warmth and respite that accept everyone just the way that they are?
On Saturday, September 30, Parables Community hosted a neighborhood block party along with York Center Church and God’s Congregation Worship Center. Here’s a video of Pastor Jeanne, Pastor Christy, and Pastor Carl at the party. We are blessed by our three congregations and our neighbors. It was a wonderful day.
Parables Community is celebrating its first anniversary on Saturday, April 29 from 6-9 p.m.! Please join us for this fun evening. We’re going to have a great time.
Parables Community is glad to be featured on the Anabaptist Disabilities Network (ADN) Web Blog! Check out their blog post and photos. We are blessed to be a partner congregation with ADN and to have Rebekah Flores, their field representative, as a part of our Parables board.
Mark your calendars for April 29!
We’ll have an evening of fellowship, light foods, and beverages in a coffee house atmosphere to raise money in support of Parables Community.
Parables musician and board member Jonathan Shively will perform original music througout the evening, and there will be some surprise musical guests as well.
Meet the Parables Community family, hear updates on the ministry, and celebrate what God is doing through this new church start.
Free-will donations will be collected. More details soon!
Holidays can be stressful! Here is a helpful post about supporting people with disabilities through the holidays from the CLC Network.
After worship on Sunday, November 20, some Parables friends helped create a video message of love for the world.
The We Are Able workcamp is a four day service-learning experience for intellectually disabled youth and young adults, ages 16-30. Recognizing that everyone has gifts to share, this workcamp gives intellectually disabled youth and young adults an opportunity to serve others. This year’s We Are Able workcamp will be held in Elgin, Illinois, July 10-13, 2017. We will be staying in a dormitory at Judson College and serving in local food banks, pantries, and food relief organizations. There will also be a daily prayer time and fun recreational outings such as bowling, a movie night and/or a concert. Enrollment is limited to ten participants. There will be two leaders (one of whom will be our own Pastor Jeanne) and a nurse present at all times.
Here is a link to photos from last year’s We Are Able workcamp. https://www.yogile.com/weareableworkcamp#21m
Enrollment is online and opens on Thursday, January 5 at 7 p.m. (CST) at http://www.brethren.org/workcamps.
Please contact Pastor Jeanne at firstname.lastname@example.org or Emily Tyler at email@example.com with any questions.