This summer the Dunston family reached a new milestone: They were able to attend church as a family for the first time as a family.
Sitting through an entire church service with their two special-needs children has been challenging, but Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Raleigh offers a new service specifically designed for special-needs children and adults. It’s called SHiNE.
“It is very important to me to be able to share my faith with my kids because it is something that is very special to me. But when you have special-needs children, it is very hard to figure out how to that,” said John Dunston of Cary. “The fact that my family can now attend a whole service together means everything to me as a dad.”
The service is short, just 30 minutes, to help keep the children’s interest, and kids are encouraged to play a musical instrument during the many songs. The sermon is short with a Bible-based message, and communion is served at the end of the service.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The News & Observer
“Having a service that is built specifically for special-needs people goes beyond welcoming to providing a foundation to learning about the faith. It really is a fantastic service,” Dunston said.
Church volunteers make the service happen, along with some helpful devices. A sign language interpreter signs the service and songs. A picture board at the front of the sanctuary with the order of worship helps the children know what’s coming next. Noise-reducing headphones, fidget balls and booster seats are available. If a family needs an additional accommodation, the church will work to meet their needs.
But even more importantly, parents are encouraged to stay in the sanctuary with their child even if they get loud or fidgety.
“As a parent of special-needs kids, I am always worried about having them sit down and be quiet at a regular service. But at this service, I don’t have to worry if they are dancing during the prayer or fidgeting,” said Jessica Trimmer, mom of twin 12-year-old boys with autism and a volunteer at the service.
“No matter if the children cry or run down the aisles, they are in a place where they can experience God’s love while their parents can take communion and hear a message as well.”
The SHiNE service meets on the third Sunday of each month; the church hopes to offer the service more often in the near future. The next service starts at 12:30 Sunday, Sept. 16, at Good Shepherd Lutheran, 7000 Creedmoor Road, Raleigh. For more information, call 919-848-1573 or visit www.gslchurchnew.org.
Wake Forest UMC fish fry
The United Methodist Men at Wake Forest United Methodist Church will serve a flounder dinner from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 14, at the church, 905 S. Main St., Wake Forest. Plates are $8 and delivery of five or more plates is available by calling 919-556-2239. For more information, visit www.wakeforestumc.org.
Outdoor movie night
The Wake Forest Church of God will show the movie “Courageous” at 8 p.m. Friday, Sept. 14 at the church, 155 E. Cedar Ave., Wake Forest. Bring a lawn chair or blanket. Admission and popcorn are free. For more information, call 919-562-2425.
St. James UMC yard and bake sale
The United Methodist Women at St. James United Methodist will hold a yard and bake sale from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 15, at the church, 3808 St. James Church Road, Raleigh. No tote bags are allowed; shopping bags will be provided. For more information, call 919-876-5796 or visit www.stjumc.us.
St. Philip Lutheran Church will hold a Country Jamboree for adults from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 15, at the church, 7304 Falls of Neuse Road, Raleigh. Festivities include square dancing, music and a cake walk. Bring a homemade pie to enter the Heavenly Pie contest. Refreshments will be provided, and admission is free with donations accepted. For more information, call 919-280-8864.
Singles social event
Believers Community, a Christian singles group, invites singles from all denominations to a social event from 7:30 to 9 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 15, at Ciago’s Italian Bar and Grill, 522 Saint Mary’s St., Raleigh. The evening is a no-alcohol event, and a portion of the food purchased will benefit Hope Connection International to help boys aging out of the foster care system. For more information, visit www.meetup.com/RTP-Christian-Singles.
Irish music concert
Fiddle-guitar duo Cady Finlayson and Vita Tanga will perform in the Good Shepherd Lutheran Church concert series at 3 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 16, at the church, 7000 Creedmoor Road, Raleigh. Admission to the family-friendly concert is free. For more information, visit www.gslchurchnew.org or call 919-848-1573.
Speaker Alex McFarland
Alex McFarland, a Christian apologist from North Carolina often featured on Fox News, will be speaking at 8:30 a.m., 11 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 16, at Mount Vernon Baptist Church, 7600 Falls of Neuse Road, Raleigh. He will also be presenting from 7 to 8 p.m. Monday, Sept. 17, through Wednesday, Sept. 19. For more information, visit www.mtvernonbaptist.net or call 919-847-0160.
High Holy Day Worship
Yavneh: A Jewish Renewal Community is holding several free worship services for the High Holy Day worship. A meditative Shabbot service will be at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 15; Erev Rosh Hashana at 7:45 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 16; and Rosh Hashana at 10:30 a.m. Monday, Sept. 17. All services will be held at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, 1725 N. New Hope Road, Raleigh. Taschlich will be at 4 p.m. Monday, Sept. 17 at Lassiter Mill Park, Raleigh. For more information, visit yavneh-raleigh.org.
Windborne UMC golf tournament
The United Methodist Men at Windborne United Methodist are holding their annual golf tournament at 1 p.m. Friday, Sept. 21, at Falls Village Golf Course, 115 Falls Village Drive, Durham. The cost is $75 per player, including greens fees, a gift bag and dinner. The tournament is captain’s choice, where the best of four shots is used. For more information, call 919-386-0212 or visit www.windborneumc.org.
Do you have some faith news to share? Send it to correspondent Jennifer Gregory at firstname.lastname@example.org.