Buddy Church

 
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Email: BuddyMinistry@fumca.org for more information.

 

Buddy Church at FUMCA

 

 
Buddy Church is an off-shoot of First UMC Alexandria’s longtime Buddy Camp ministry that addresses the community’s special needs children.
Buddy Camp is a community-wide project that allows children both with and without developmental challenges who have completed Kindergarten and are first to fifth grade to participate in a week-long summer day camp.

“Campers are placed into Buddy pairs to allow all children the opportunity to share quality, structured camp activities that encourage them to learn more about each other and develop friendships, healthy behaviors and Christian attitudes,” the Website states.

 
FUMCA member Rob Wright, who works with special needs children and has been active with Buddy Camp, has taken the lead with the idea of “Buddy Church.” He presented the proposal for the mission during a special Church Council meeting Oct. 16, 2013, whose members approved a motion to “fully endorse the beta testing of Buddy Church.”
 
“We have a lot of families with special needs that love Buddy Camp, but Buddy Camp is five days for one week out of 52 weeks a year,” Wright said.
 
“So these families spend the majority of their year looking forward to Buddy Camp, and the Friday Buddy Camp ends, they go home and (there is a gap), then start being excited about Buddy Camp 51 weeks later,” Wright said. “So, the idea is to expand to a Buddy Church offering.”
 
However, this much needed mission has required the church to start slowly as special need families Wright has talked with don’t wish to impose on the greater community at large.
 
“They don’t go out to eat because their child won’t sit in the booth quietly, and they get strange looks,” Wright explained. “Or they don’t go to church because in church you have to be quiet and the only time you get up is when the preacher tells you to please rise and sing …”
 
Also, the sanctuary could be too light or too dark, or the music too soft or too loud, for many special needs children to tolerate.
 
Therefore, a church Sunday School classroom was converted into a place for special needs children while their parents attend worship services.
 
A special Christmas Eve service launched the concept with four special needs children assisted by at least four adults.
 
Last month was the start of monthly Buddy Church activities. Children and their families are invited to attend Sunday School with their peers if able or specific Buddy Church activities for those not able or interested in participating with their peers.
 
“Buddy Church will occur at the first of every month with the hope to expand these offering in the fall of 2014,” Wright said.
 
Plans are under way to develop an on-going monthly worship service or “Buddy Service” with families and their children with special needs so parents will be able to come to a church where they and their children are fully accepted and to be able to meet with a community of people outside of their special needs community.
 
by Bill Sumrall
FUMCA Communications Assistant
 
 

Email: BuddyMinistry@fumca.org for more information.
 
Classroom renovations were underway in December 2013, check them out here.