St. Stephen’s provides Grace2Go service for special needs children

Grace2Go at St. Stephen’s Church is hosting a service for families with special needs children the second Saturday of each month from 3 to 4:30 p.m. The service will be held at the church’s North Hall, located at 351 Main Street.

Grace2Go serves families with children who have autism, ADHD, epilepsy, Down syndrome, and a variety of other special needs conditions and welcomes those from all Christian traditions. The next service, on Dec. 9, will focus on the Christmas story.

Grace2Go includes gospel teaching, music, play, and activities that allow for noise and moving about in an accepting and judgment-free atmosphere.

Isaac’s communion

The experience of Erika Hagan and her 12-year-old son, Isaac, who has autism, shows what this new program means to families.

“As Isaac grew, it became clear that he was not going to be able to attend church,” Erika said. “The people, the music, the flowers, the organ, the behavioral expectations were beyond his ability to handle.”

She was providing a spiritual life for him, but there was one thing she could not do at home alone. “I desperately wanted Isaac to receive communion,” she said.

Erika described their first Grace2Go service: “When we gathered to process from North Hall to the church, he suddenly saw how it was all coming together and said, ‘It’s a parade!’ And I said, ‘Yes, it is!’ We came over to the church, and he said the Lord’s Prayer under his breath with me, and then we lined up for communion. It didn’t matter that he couldn’t keep his body still or his mouth from making noise.

“Rev. Whitney Altopp offered the communion wafer and said, ‘Take, eat,’ and he took, and he ate, and it happened! Isaac had communion. My prayers were answered.”