Here is a wonderful story that Tracy Taylor, one of our Volusia teachers and elders, wrote on her Facebook page about how she began in Special Gathering.  Thanks, Tracy for your story.

Well, I would like to tell how I have been called to such a ministry as The Special Gathering.  One day in June of 1997 while I was in the Sunday morning service at the local church, our pastor had announced beforehand that there would be special guest speaker to tell about a special outreach ministry. On that day, Linda G. Howard was the featured guest speaker sent to talk about the ministry. She brought The Special Gatheringchoir to sing at our church. They sang several songs praising the Name of Jesus. They sang beautifully despite the fact that they are mentally challenged.

Then Linda G. Howard preached on the “God Makes Things Holy” It was beautifully done… She uses the New Century Version Bible which is the easiest Bible for most of the mentally challenged folks to read and understand. While she was preaching on the “God Makes Things Holy,” I heard a quiet voice speaking to me.  So I listened, “Daughter,  this is it.” And sure enough, I knew that it was God who was speaking to me through the Holy Spirit.

So I prayed about it and decided to obey God by calling Linda.  I asked her if I could volunteer to help. Sure enough, she gladly accepted.

The Special Gathering is now incorporated as an outreach ministry for the mentally challenged folks of all faiths and walks of life.  The ministry began many years ago in Lakeland, Florida  by Richard Stimson. Many of these folks were unchurched.  This ministry is designed to make disciples of folks who are developmentally disabled.

I am now an Elder and a teacher of the Volusia County’s Special Gathering. I teach a Sunday school style class to those who cannot speak and have low functioning capacities. I mainly use the object and/or pictorial lessons to convey the messages from the Bible so that they can understand.  I really do enjoy teaching these folks; and they love Jesus with all their hearts.

The Special Gathering meets as if we’re in the church, even though we are using the ARC workshop in DeLand. We fellowship before we start the worship service with the Praise and Worship music. Then, we continue in worship as the deacons pray for the various prayer needs and someone passes the offering plates for the offerings. Then, Linda preaches from the Bible after a few quick announcements. 

After the worship service, we pray before we fellowship with snacks and before breaking into the various classes. We have some members who can read, others who can understand the Bible without being able to read.. and, of course, the non-verbal, lower mental functioning class which I’m teaching now.  They can understand clearly, though they may not be able to verbalize their thoughts as plainly as others.  And at last, we take them home.

So now you know of one of my ministries. Yes, there are others. Right now at Special Gathering, we have prayed for a new director and God answered our prayers by sending a young woman who is now in training. We all know that she will be a wonderful director. Praise the Lord!

May God bless you always.