On February 24, Christ Church hosted the first Young Life Capernaum Club Night. 30+ children with special needs from all over the Memphis area gathered in Rash Hall for over two hours on a Friday night to enjoy music by a live band, games, and a Bible lesson.

The event was the joint effort of Memphis Metro YL Capernaum and the special needs ministries of CUMC and Second Presbyterian of Memphis.

Ashley Parks of CUMC’s Special Needs Ministry attributes much of the success of the evening to the abundance of YL volunteers, most of which were young people of all ages from around the Memphis area. She describes the night as “perfect,” and says that “the kids absolutely had a blast.” The Special Needs Ministry of CUMC contributed not only by hosting the event on the church campus but also by providing a pizza dinner for all the volunteers.

The guests of honor themselves were provided with a dinner by some gracious volunteers from New Tribe Memphis, a new church plant that meets at the Pink Palace.

Susan Greene of Memphis Metro YL Capernaum held a parents’ meeting directly after the activities to inform them about future opportunities of YL Capernaum for the Memphis area.

Young Life Capernaum is a branch of the worldwide Young Life organization. The self-expressed goal of Capernaum Ministries is “to give kids with disabilities the same chance to hear the Gospel and experience the gift of life as able-bodied kids.” They believe special needs kids have the same right as everyone else “to experience life as God intended it—life lived to the full.” To this end, YL Capernaum seeks to cultivate “meaningful relationships, fun and laughter, and adventure and acceptance.” And at the basis of it all, they afford all of these adolescents the opportunity “to explore a personal relationship with God.” Click here to view a short video about YL Capernaum.

Parks emphasizes that youth groups for special needs teens is a need that has not been met in Memphis, but she clarifies that it’s not so much about having more special needs ministries themselves, but developing a greater degree of integration of the lives of those with special needs with the overall life of the church. She invites all people, from parents to the broader community to get on board. With this support, events like Club Night aren’t going to be special occasions but will be offered with greater regularity. As more area churches become involved, there will be cooperation across the board so that events aren’t taking place concurrently at different sites. This will provide more chances for everyone who wishes to be involved to be a part of what’s happening.

One major goal, in light of the importance of this type of ministry highlighted by Parks and the remarkable success of the first Club Night, is to bring the Memphis area involvement with YL Capernaum to the status of a full-time ministry. This would include the full-time involvement of Susan Greene, who is currently volunteering her time with the Special Needs Ministry at CUMC. This accomplishment requires a sum of $50,000 to cover costs and the ministry is currently halfway to this target.

In addition to its new collaberation with YL Capernaum, the Special Needs Ministry of CUMC provides a Sunday school class, a Parents Night Out one Friday each month, opportunities for outreach, as well as a Parent Support Group. There is also a Vacation Bible School and Sports Camp the week of June 18-21.

For more information about the Special Needs Ministry of CUMC, contact Ashley Parks at 261-2153 or with Memphis Metro Young Life Capernaum, contact Susan Greene at 674-6881.

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