This is the third entry I’ve written about Special Gathering group homes over the past four years.  Often, there is a Google search requesting to view Special Gathering Group Homes.  There are no Special Gathering group homes.

On Saturday, someone googled at last 30 times some variation of  Linda Howard Group Homes.  There are no Linda Howard Group Homes.  Five different times, the searcher pulled up one entry which explained why we don’t have group homes.

Several months ago, I was faced down by a lady who seemed to believe that I somehow had my hand in the financial pie of some group home or another.  I was finally able to convince her that neither Special Gathering nor I have any monetary interest in any group home.

Please understand this interest is a fascinating curiosity to me.  Group homes are almost never a profitable business venture.  In addition, I have a very full-time position pastoring and ministering to the mentally challenged community in three counties in Florida.  I also have the primary responsiblity for writing, typesetting and proofing our 12-page, monthly newsletter.  I’m not looking for another job.

My basic interest is that the developmentally disabled community has the opportunity to hear and understand the good news that Jesus is their Lord and Savior.  I cannot imagine a more fulfilling  job.  True, the pay may not be that great but since I intend to do this in some form until I die, my retirement plan is fabulous.

Decades  ago, when there was a campaign for Billy Graham to run for president of the United States, Rev. Graham said that he absolutely would not take a demotion to run for president because he was doing the most important job in the world.  I have to heartily agree with Rev. Graham.

About fifteen years ago, a widow wanted a quality group home to be built in our county for her son.  For years, her son had been associated with Special Gathering (SpG).  She desired that once built, SpG would oversee the supervision and run the home.

During a SpG board of director’s meeting, there was a heated discussion when the proposal was presented.  One board member adamantly opposed this arrangement.  She argued that group homes require authority, control and oversight on a daily basis.  She believed that our healing mission of evangelism and discipleship would be compromised.  The prophet Isaiah speaking for the Lord agreed with her.  His approach had been “Comfort ye, comfort ye, my people.”

her logic prevailed, even though the other board members resisted her for a time.  One at a time, each person saw the wisdom of her line of reasoning.  It was finally voted that SpG would not own or operate group homes.

The Lord has made our mission clear.  We are a ministry within the mentally challenged community whose purpose is evangelism and discipleship.  Many things come under this broad heading, but the daily operation of group homes is not one of them.

Staff members of SpG do believe that under most circumstances group homes are a better alternative for mentally challenged people than living alone in their own apartments.  Our concern is not a preference of housing arrangements; but it is a concern over the  level of supervision that is provided in most states for people living in their own apartments.  However, this the personal opinion of our staff members, not the policy of our SpG, Inc. board of directors.