Sherry Bale
Sherry Bale, Communications Professional

Mosaic Furthers Faithfulness With Rejoicing Spirits

Mosaic’s Rejoicing Spirits website starts with “Rejoicing Spirits is an innovative ministry to enrich the faith lives of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD), their families and friends and other supportive community members.” It is a worship service for people of all abilities.

Mosaic furthers its “Faithfulness” value statement by helping churches realize total inclusion—by specifically creating a welcoming environment for all diverse people, including those with IDD and other disabilities.

There are about 50 participating churches, and the number of parishes with Rejoicing Spirits ministries continues to grow, particularly where these places of worship are a faith partner in locations where Mosaic local agencies exist. 

“I love Rejoicing Spirits and what it does for congregations in addition to creating inclusion–it gives them life,” said David deFreese, Mosaic’s Vice President of Church Relations and International Programs. “It’s the complete opposite of a quiet, traditional worship service, as it’s vocal, animated and openly passionate. There is no ‘shushing’ here.”  

According to Pastor Dan Wynard with the Alpine Lutheran Church in Rockford, Illinois, “It [Rejoicing Spirits] brings authenticity, openness and honesty to the way we worship. Before the pandemic, we started out with 80% of the attendees having some kind of disability—we partner with other service providers in our area—with 20% made up of other members of our congregation. Then, as more people found out about the program, it went to a 65%/35% mix; many people who were disillusioned with the church felt at home with the honesty and nonpolitical environment of Rejoicing Spirits.”

“I often heard from families they would sit in worship and be nervous about their loved one ‘making a disturbance,’” said deFreese. “They also told me they often felt invisible there, and hearing that was very powerful to me. Now I get feedback that they can relax and enjoy worship as it’s intended to be.”

deFreese added while Mosaic helps churches add Rejoicing Spirits to their worship offerings, he recommends they hold Rejoicing Spirits ministries during weeknights or on Saturdays. “Transportation can be a real barrier for people with disabilities, and many need assistance to attend, which is more challenging to find on Sundays than on other days.”

“Rejoicing Spirits is a wonderful program. It’s so much fun, and it brings great joy. It’s a great opportunity to connect with the community and show what ‘full welcoming’ means,” said Pastor Kaila Armbruster. “The people who participate—including persons served, others in the congregation and myself—love it. I would recommend it to any pastor. The worship is not just a sit-down service, people use their voices and whole bodies to show how they celebrate God.”

If your parish is interested in starting a Rejoicing Spirits ministry of your own, contact either David deFreese at [email protected] or 402.896.3884 ext. 31178, or Community Relations Coordinator Kelli Joseph, at [email protected] or 402.896.3884, ext. 31031

To learn more, visit Mosaic’s Rejoicing Spirits website.

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