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Special Needs Ministry Love Walk

October 4, 2013

Two weeks ago I flew from Atlanta to Los Angeles for the Orange Tour.  As soon as I hopped off the plane I braved the SoCal traffic in my rental car (no small feat) and headed up to Pasadena.  I spent the afternoon with Julie Keith, Pastor of Special Needs at First Church of the Nazarene of Pasadena (known locally as PazNaz).  Julie is one of a small handful of leaders who’ve been directing inclusion ministry for a decade or more.  When I was writing the book Leading a Special Needs MInistryI drew from Julie’s wisdom for chapter seven.  She was the source for the idea to partner with a local college or seminary for volunteer recruitment. For a number of years, Julie has worked with faculty contacts to create incentives for students in a related area of study to serve in PazNaz’s special needs ministry.  I have always remembered the great interview Julie provided me where she rattled off ideas for recruiting solid ministry volunteers.

I could have spent another day with Julie just soaking in all her experiences.  She is as passionate about her career calling as her faith.  She has even written her own curriculum!  (I’m pretty sure there will be a special place in heaven for curriculum writers.  Y’all wave to me when I’m looking over from the “cheap seats” among non-curriculum writers.)

When I arrived at PazNaz Julie presented me with a Love Walk T-shirt.  And for those of you who know me, you can envision me interrupting Julie before she could finish her first sentence.  Of course I was begging her to guest post about this event.  Oh how I wish I was within driving distance of Pasadena, California.  You wouldn’t have to guess where I would be at 9am in the morning!  ~ Amy Fenton Lee

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Special Needs Ministry Love Walk

 

Tomorrow is an exciting day for my church’s special needs ministries. PAZNAZ will host its 6th annual Love Walk to publicly celebrate our ministries.  We also use this event to raise scholarship funds for some of our ministry participants to attend a unique retreat designed for families with special needs.  The Love walk is publicized through the church newsletter and other congregational communications.  This event provides church members the opportunity to become aware of First Church of the Nazarene of Pasadena’s special needs ministries and to invite their participation.  For this event, we encourage our entire church family to join in the walk, to sponsor a walk participant, or to volunteer as an event helper.

By design, the Love Walk offers two short routes (half-mile and two-mile), so that individuals with special needs, their family members, and the entire community can join in the fun. Through participant sponsorships, last year’s event raised enough funds to scholarship nine families’ way to Joni & Friends Family Retreat.  Joni & Friends Family Retreat provides a unique getaway with special accommodations where teams of trained volunteers infuse laughter and God’s love into every activity. Because this retreat is designed with special needs in mind, it may be the only vacation some families ever experience.

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If you live in the SoCal area, come join us!  Be sure to checkout our ministry Facebook page for pictures from the Love Walk and other events. ~ Julie Keith

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ImageFor more than twelve years Julie Keith has been a Pastor to individuals and families with special needs.  Julie has a Doctor of Ministry degree and a Master or Arts degree in Marriage and Family Counseling.  Julie has served as Pastor to Special Needs at First Church of the Nazarene of Pasadena (CA) since 2007.  Julie frequently teaches workshops at ministry conferences and writes on the subject of disability inclusion inside the church.  She has also worked in social work providing supportive living services to adults with special needs and support to their families through the transition.  Check out Julie’s blog or follow her on Twitter.

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