Building Belonging with Jesus: Face to Face
By Victoria White
Pat moved in next door to Church of the Good Shepherd but was not interested in attending. She was searching for a job but spending a lot of time at home. Though she was going for walks and creating artwork, something was missing. Pat missed people.
Diane is a long-time friend of Church of the Good Shepherd. Passionate about connecting people, she asked the pastor about starting a ‘Together Belonging’ group to engage Pat. The group would commit to study the Bible in a unique and inclusive way. The pastor agreed with Diane and supported starting the Bible study. Even though she claimed she had no interest in going to church, Pat accepted Diane’s invitation to join ‘Together Belonging.’
For their Bible study, the group began with Jesus: Face to Face, a unit of Friendship Ministries’ TOGETHER curriculum. Diane received access to it thanks to a connection between Heritage Christian Services and All Belong. The materials are designed for use in building belonging with people with varied abilities in community. Diane relates,
“We successfully completed our first 8-week ‘Together Belonging’ study yesterday. It was truly ‘with’ each other. We learned from each other and grew in our journeys. The group included Pat from next door to the church. Many knew her because of her daily walks around the church. The relationships that we’ve built have been rich.”
Pat and Diane are joined by regular attendees of the church, including Paul, who lives at another nearby group home, and individuals from a local day program. Others within the church have become interested in joining the Bible study. After participating, Pat felt differently about Church of the Good Shepherd. She said, "I really feel like a part here.”
Resident manager at Pat’s home shares that the group has bolstered Pat’s spirits:
“She looks forward to seeing the group every Wednesday. Since joining, she has learned of a family member’s illness, and having this group to support her and keep her and her family in prayer has eased her worry.”
With community beginning to blossom, Diane rejoices in the resource that All Belong has provided for her and the church to use.
Seeing how well the group responded to Jesus: Face to Face, she notes,
“It was fun to utilize the video resources for songs and Bible stories. This added so much to our study.”
The group continues building belonging and growing, as they launch their next TOGETHER curriculum unit: Unwrapping Your Gifts. And, Pat’s involvement with Church of the Good Shepherd is flourishing. She began attending services on Sundays knowing there is a place for her in the congregation.
Victoria White is the director of Church Services at All Belong.
Learn more about how All Belong can partner with your church, working together towards a community that is more inclusive of congregants of all abilities.