PARABLES is an interactive, hands-on, “special-needs friendly” weekly worship service, open to anyone and everyone. Parables is designed for “the little red fish in all of us”—embracing all people, those with special needs and those without. All are welcome.
||Interview with Leslie Neugent:
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PARABLES Worship Service is offered every Sunday morning from 10:30-11:15 a.m. in the WCC Chapel.
A Vision for Parables
Being a “special needs parent” can include unique challenges. Whether it is a simple trip to a grocery store, a dinner at a restaurant, or a doctor visit, sometimes the most common, daily routine activities can be daunting. Integrating a special needs child and their family into the mainstream of life can be a difficult undertaking. It is also true that many churches are not prepared to serve the special needs that some families bring. Wayzata Community Church is helping to change that.
The inspiration for this came last spring after attending a service at Wayzata Community Church. A young church member with special needs began to sing “Jesus Loves Me” during a sermon. Because it was disturbing to those around him, the child’s father quickly wheeled him out into the hallway. This had been such a holy moment— the child was moved by the Spirit to praise God in song, with no inhibitions, but was discouraged by our society’s protocol. At that moment, I knew that this community needed a worship service of total inclusion to celebrate the unique gifts of those with special needs and to have the spiritual support of other parents who also walk this “road less traveled.”
This worship service is a time of empowerment for the often disempowered special needs community. It is a grass roots effort, with special needs folks and their families involved in all spects of planning and running the service. Each special needs member and their siblings are personally invited to share their unique gifts with others during worship time— be it a smile of welcome to those attending, a handshake of peace, reading liturgy or scripture, singing, dancing, passing the offering, praying, helping with the sacrament of Communion, or being an Ambassdor of the ministry in the role of worship leader— all are called to be the ministers that they are. No gift is too small to acknowledge and celebrate!
For many, this may be the only venue in their life where they are honored for their divine gifts— to greet, speak, or perform publicly— all in a community of love, patience, and support. For a group unaccustmoed to being asked to actively join in and fully participate, Parables offers the gift of being a valued member of the community. Together, we celebrate our differences and find fellowship with one another.
We have named this ministry Parables for one simple reason: Jesus taught in parables. Parables are short lessons of rich and deep wisdom. They are often hard to hear. They are challenging, often turning the world upside down, and questioning all we hold as valuable. They have ambiguous endings, demanding us to wrestle with their meaning. The message speaks differently to each of us and every time we hear one we might glean a different pearl of wisdom. They honor the meek; put the last first and the first last.
We believe that each member in the Special Needs community is a present day Parable. Each offers deep and challenging lessons for all of us, turning our world upside down, and demanding that we wrestle with ambiguity. They embody meekness, humility, and trust. They are wise teachers in our midst.
We invite all in the church and the broader community to join us in celebrating and living out “the inclusive love of Jesus”. We are committed to learning from this community’s deep wisdom and sharing it with the world.
—Rev. Leslie Neugent
Click here for directions to Wayzata Community Church.