The Special Gathering is a ministry within the mentally challenged (developmentally delayed) community.  There are currently 8 programs.  Our mission is to evangelize and disciple people who are mentally challenged. 

Our main vehicle for accomplishing our mission is our chapel program.  Our largest and oldest program is located in Cocoa, Florida.  Rev. Richard Stimson is the founder and executive director of the ministry.  Stimson serves as Area Director for the Brevard programs, in Cocoa and Titusville.  Linda Howard, is the Area Director of the South Brevard, Indian River County Programs.  Ferne Brandt is the Area Director for our South Carolina program, located in Colleton County.  We also have programs in Daytona, DeLand and Jacksonville.   For information regarding any of these programs, call 321 632 0130.

 In addition, we do advocacy and teach self-advocacy.  There are four Special Gathering choirs which minister with the community.    Our monthly publication called Connecting Point, written for and by The Special Gathering Members, has a circulation of about 1,500.

Of course, we know it.  Most people who stubble into The Special Gathering blogsite aren’t looking for us.  They are looking for answers.  As a ministry within the mentally challenged community (developmental disabilities),  we do classic ministry, evangelism and discipleship.  We don’t do social ministry, group homes and rehabilitation workshops.   Considering the world-wide church, we are a small ministry that ministers face to face to approximately 450 people who are intellectually disabled. 

If you’ve ever had a blog you understand the process from this end.  We publish our thoughts, prayers and observations on the blogsite and people find us.  You may google or yahoo us by searching for individuals with intellectual disabilities or mental retardation.  You may find us through a convoluted path of websites and blogs.

While we may not be exactly what people are looking for, I pray that Special Gathering’s blog will be a respite in their search for answers–your search for answers.  A drink of cool water.  An oasis.  We desire to be an outreach of hope, evangelism and teaching for lonely travelers who sit at their computer screens and stare into the vast land of informational overload.  At Special Gathering, we seek to minister to people with disabilities.  In the process, we sometimes inadvertently touch lives of professionals and parents.  We have years of experience and we know just enough to realize there is so much that we don’t know. 

However, here at this blog spring head, we are desiring to touch the wounded warriors:  a minister, a home or foreign missionary within the mentally challenged community who isn’t sure that anyone is praying for you.  We know there are parents who secretly fear there may be no hope for your child.  Irreligious professionals sincerely search for answers that are far beyond your expertise and worldly experience.

Our prayer for you is that this will be a fountain of hope and a stopover in the fulfillment of your deepest desire.  We understand that your task is daunting–helping the helpless and strengthening the weak.  Sure, we all speak a big politically correct language and we really believe the verbiage of “no disability, except what we will not do.”  However, sitting in front of the screen in the middle of the night, we search our plaintive pleas for assistance in words like “help for a parent with an autistic child” and “one scripture for my children who are mentally challenged.”  The most frequent has been ”a Bible for my child who is mentally retarded.”

In front of the silent gaping screen, we drop the politically proper verbage and bluster.  We sincerely desire help and desperately want answers.  Here at Special Gathering, we admit we don’t have all the professional unction you need.  We don’t even have all the spiritual answers you grasp for in desperation; but we do know the Rock from which supernatural water springs and He can provide the answers you seek.  Christ is your oasis in this desert land.  Reach out and He will touch you and quench your thirst.  He will give you strength to face one more day in the desert of endless hope and unanswered desperation.

I’ve been touched by the amazing simplicity of the scripture that we are using as our Call to Worship in Special Gathering of Indian River this month.  “If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and if you believe in your heart that God raised Jesus from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9 NCV).

 Today be assured we weep and pray for you.  Christ is the answer…your answer.

 This blog is managed by Linda G. Howard

11 Responses to “The Special Gathering”

  1. Jayne Says:

    My husband and I have plans to move to the Merritt Island area. Our desire is so strong in both of us, we know that we are purposed to be there. We are very interested in your program as our daughter (16) has intellectual disabilities. My husband came in from yard work this afternoon saying – how do we reach out to people like Anna to ensure they have a chance to hear the Word. I was searching ID and Brevard because my career is working with adults with ID. Your site came up – We’d love to touch base in April when we visit. Also need some churches to visit – we like contemporary praise and worship, bible based – our church is if you want to get an idea of what we like

    1. Jayne, thanks for your question. Sorry, it has taken me a few days to answer. As I hope you saw, Special Gathering is a ministry within the mentally challenged community. You will want want to come to visit us to insure that we are a good fit for your daughter. We would LOVE to have her as a part of our ministry. One of our programs is located on Merritt Island at First Baptist Church which is much like the church your described. Also, there are several other churches on Merritt Island that would be close to what you are experiencing in your home church. They are all on Courtney Parkway, I think. I actually do not live on Merritt Island. I am the program director for our Melbourne/Vero programs. Richard Stimson will be a better resource for you regarding churches. He is our Senior Pastor and he is also our founder and the pastor for our MI and Titusville programs.

  2. Carolyn Says:

    Oh…JOY! LOL. Stumbled on your post under ‘Christian’ blogs. Am retired after eighteen years fully with my county school systems severely disabled (combined mental/physical). I was reminded of the ‘need’ for ‘special’ teaching in spiritual areas same as in acadmic areas when a Down Syndrone students became frightened while at church as the pastor talked about God killing His son, Jesus. She expressed her fears to none but me. She knew I was ‘listening.’ I talked with her…tried to assure her that Christ was not murdered…but that He gave Himself…willingly to save others…but the words were beyond her comprehension. I continue to discuss the problem with mom. Mom could not lesson her daughters upset. AFter a few days of this…I ‘knew’ what would help the child. I sat down at my computer and told the story of Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection in ‘picture’ language(word-to-picture). I called Christ the Good Angel and Satan…the Bad Angel…since she comprehended ‘good’ and ‘bad.’ The story was brief but clear. I sent the little book home in the student’s backback with a note asking mom to approve my picture story and to read it with her daughter if appropriate. Mom whole-heartily approved…read and discussed it with her daughter…wallah….no more tears…no more fear…only SMILES! AFter my retirement, I had wanted to purchase a words-in-pictures program for myself…to put these pictoral Bible stories in the hands of churches. Never followed through. How sad…but thank God there are programs such as Special Gathering. I am delighted.

  3. Thanks, Carolyn. This is an excellent explanation. There are so many ways to explain God’s love in simple, easy to understand terms. God gave you one that is really a revelation. Thanks again for sharing with us.

  4. internet elias Says:

    Could you please expand your share buttons to include Facebook so I might link you to my fb site? Your site is special and I would like others to encounter it. I am a retired teacher of severely disabled students. Your ‘share’ options only include StumbleUpon, Digg, and Reddit.



    1. That is because it automatically goes to my facebook page. I’m not sure exactly how to do that and still be able to go to my facebook page. I’ll check it out. Thanks so much for asking.

  5. A. Rubi Mitchell Says:

    Hello, I would like more information regarding camp this year.

    1. If you give me your address through email, I’ll send you a request for an application. My email is

  6. Cindy Fisher Says:

    I stumbled onto this very informative material searching for more material for the folks in my Bible study group. Wow. So refreshing.
    I am not good with teh stuff but will try to find more pages from your people.
    Thank you, Cindy Fisher

    1. Thank you, Cindy. I appreciate your interest. I hope this will be a blessing to you.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s