Rejoicing Spirits began in 2003 at St. Paul Lutheran Church in Exton, Penn., when a group of volunteers and staffers gathered together around a shared vision of an adaptive worship service to provide people with intellectual disabilities an opportunity to worship in a 'shush-free' environment.

Led by founders Susan Crawford and Cynthia McCurdy, the group partnered with local agencies to explore whether such a ministry was feasible and necessary. The group also leaned heavily on the creativity of Interim Pastor Arlene Greenwald to craft a free-flowing and meaningful worship for people of all abilities.

The first service was held Oct. 5, 2003. There were 84 attendees, including caregivers and volunteers. Following a few successful Rejoicing Spirits services at St. Paul’s, several other local churches contacted St. Paul’s to see what it would take for them to begin a similar service The volunteer team put together a how-to book and the ministry grew to 10 host sites in five years.

Expansion and Growth

From 2008-2012 the number of host sites more than doubled, thanks to partnerships with the Southeastern Pennsylvania Synod, Wheatridge Ministries and other ecumenical partners. Anticipating more growth, The Rejoicing Spirits Board of Directors diligently sought out a large spirituality/disability organization with a similar vision and values, looking for an organization with the understanding, resources and passion to take Rejoicing Spirits to the “next level.”

After a thorough feasibility study, Rejoicing Spirits became a part of Mosaic, a national faith-based service provider, dedicated to "providing a life of possiblities for people with intellectual disabilites."

Rejoicing Spirits Today

Today there are 38 Rejoicing Spirits host sites supported by more than 35 congregations in 17 states. Rejoicing Spirits continues to seek out ministry partners and congregations who will help ensure that people with disabilities have the opportunity to explore and express their faith in an inclusive worship community.