Friday, March 15, 2019

By Pastor David deFreese

There are important questions that continually need to be asked as we journey through life responding to our God of grace and our God of mission.

What have you learned? How have you grown?

After serving through Rejoicing Spirits, what have you learned? What insights have you gained about people? About the God who is alive in Jesus, our Christ? About being the Church? About hospitality and the praise of our God?

How have you grown? Has Rejoicing Spirits impacted you spiritually? Do you recognize God’s presence in your life differently? Have any fears or attitudinal barriers fallen? Are you better at being the Body of Christ, the Church?

We teach a course at two seminaries, Wartburg Seminary in Dubuque and the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, on “Ministry with and Among People Living with Disabilities.” The class description states: “The need continues unabated for good, compassionate pastoral care that propels congregations into transformational ministry with individuals, communities and society. Such pastoral care includes awakening and leading the community of faith to embrace and partner with those who have disabilities.

“The gifts that persons with disabilities bring to the faith community invigorate a deeper understanding of the theology of the Cross, a greater realization of what it means to be the Body of Christ, and a heightened sense of community.

“This course is intended to alert students to the realities of disability, to the challenges involved in working for justice, and to the manifold opportunities for ministry with and among persons of differing abilities.”

We believe it is essential that leaders in ministry be sensitized to the life of a person living with a disability, how it influences a person’s every day and how it impacts a family. In order for pastoral care to be genuine, how might the leader watch more closely and listen more attentively? How can a congregation be the Church for a family that experiences disability? Our goal is to help ministry leaders serve as effectively as possible.

Let’s go back to our two questions: What have you learned? How have you grown since you began a Rejoicing Spirits ministry in your congregation? What would you want new ministry leaders to know from your experience of Rejoicing Spirits? What would you want to share?

Please send your responses to Kelli Joseph at

Help us all to grow and learn, so that God and our neighbor are better served. Thank you!

Rejoicing with you!