How a hidden disability kept one family from church

From the earliest days of our ministry, our team at Key has been focused on helping churches minister to kids with “hidden disabilities”…significant emotional, behavioral, developmental or neurologic conditions lacking outwardly apparent physical symptoms. Some friends in a like-minded ministry have produced a wonderful video that illustrates the challenges one family impacted by a hidden disability experienced in maintaining their involvement at church.

Tory White is a staff member at CLC Network, a ministry organization based in Grand Rapids, Michigan that equips congregations and Christian schools to glorify God through purposeful, innovative inclusion of persons with varied abilities. Several years ago, Tory contracted Lyme disease, a bacterial infection frequently associated with fever, muscle pain, fatigue, cardiac symptoms, a characteristic rash and a wide variety of neurologic symptoms. Listen as Tory describes how her illness impacted her family’s experience of church…

I thought there were several important lessons for churches in the message Tory communicated…

Online church services are an important lifeline to families affected by disability.

The sensory aspects of our worship services often represent a significant barrier for persons with hidden disabilities. In Tory’s case, the volume of the music during the praise and worship component of the service was so overwhelming that she needed to leave.

Little things matter. In Tory’s case, the type of bread used during communion intensified her sense of isolation from her larger church community.

No church can do everything, but every church can do something. Tory recognized this reality in the video…

What we realized we were looking for in a church was more than any one church could provide.

Barb Newman from CLC Network spoke in the video about the principle of universal design for worship – the idea that all of God’s people are invited to access the Gospel message and be included in all aspects of worship and the entire worshiping community benefits from worship services that are designed and led with the goal of including everyone.

Check out the video and the links included in the post to learn more about CLC Network and universal design for worship. And block out April 21st and 22nd on your calendar to come join us and our friends in Cleveland at Inclusion Fusion Live to learn more about how churches can more effectively welcome individuals and families impacted by hidden disabilities.

On December 24th, Key Ministry will be celebrating fifteen years of connecting churches and families of kids with disabilities for the purpose of making disciples of Jesus Christ. The costs of providing free training, consultation, resources and support to church leaders and families has again outstripped our revenues.  Please consider helping us continue our work through a financial gift of $15, $150 or $1,500 if you’re able to help us cover our budget shortfall in 2017 and expand the work of our ministry in 2018 and beyond!


About Dr. G

Dr. Stephen Grcevich serves as President and Founder of Key Ministry, a non-profit organization providing free training, consultation, resources and support to help churches serve families of children with disabilities. Dr. Grcevich is a graduate of Northeastern Ohio Medical University (NEOMED), trained in General Psychiatry at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation and in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at University Hospitals of Cleveland/Case Western Reserve University. He is a faculty member in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at two medical schools, leads a group practice in suburban Cleveland (Family Center by the Falls), and continues to be involved in research evaluating the safety and effectiveness of medications prescribed to children for ADHD, anxiety and depression. He is a past recipient of the Exemplary Psychiatrist Award from the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). Dr. Grcevich was recently recognized by Sharecare as one of the top ten online influencers in children’s mental health. His blog for Key Ministry, was ranked fourth among the top 100 children's ministry blogs in 2015 by Ministry to Children.
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