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Posts Tagged ‘Northland’

Note to Northland

Here is a note, I sent to the Northland staff this morning regarding my upcoming transition. God has used Northland and it’s people to shape me over the years…today, I am excited about the next steps in my life!
The last several months here at Northland have been eventful for many of us. When the ELT and elders began to talk about the up coming changes at Northland, I began personally began to ask God, where do I fit into the plan here at Northland. Access Ministries has a foundation, but there is so much more to be accomplished to serve those with disabilities. I began to realize my call to ministry was not to Northland like many of you, but rather to a people group, those living disability. My desire began to grow to reach beyond the doors of Northland.

So In October when the news came, Northland no longer needed me as Access Minister, I was not surprised God had already been working in my heart about reaching other churches. Like many people was concerned about how I would pay the bills. My desire for along time was to consult with other churches and help them to figure out how to serve one person or family with disability at a time, but the Question was, how would I get paid doing what I felt God was calling me toward. Would I get serious about developing Table Ministries, a business I set up to do consulting a few years earlier but I had no peace about moving in that direction.

God was way ahead of me, of course. Over the years, I have connected with many people and organizations throughout the United States doing faith and disability work, including Bethesda Lutheran Communities. Bethesda’s mission is to enhance the lives of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. They work with adults primarily, which is my first love in this community. I have been hired as a Ministry Consultant. It is in many ways the perfect position in that over the past it has been Bethesda philosophy to take care of the spiritual needs of the people they are serving, taking the responsibility of off the local church. They are shifting toward a model that I fully embrace, that of people truly being enfolded into the life of a local congregation. My position will consult with congregations and help people with disabilities become part of the congregation and to equip staff who support these individuals in their group homes to feed folks spiritually. God has created a passion in me for both of these areas and as I write, I am excited about what is next…

Next, is a move to the suburbs of Chicago…where this position will allow me to pour into 160 residents, living in group homes in the suburbs and Springfield and to work with a many new churches. Leaving Central Florida and Northland seems difficult. Northland has embraced, loved and supported me in many different ways in the past fifteen years. I walked through though the doors a very disconnected person, with no desire to be connected to anyone, found connection by accident in Singles Ministry, found purpose through Global Outreach, especially as a Missionary Living in England, where I realized the people group I am called to are those with disabilities. Wherever I go, a huge piece of Northland and her people will go with me….and I know now what it is to feel connected. Thank you to each of you who played such an important part of this journey…you helped me to grow into a person who is passionate about God and his people…words will never express my gratitude.

As we all embark on this new season, I will be praying for each of you!
Merry Christmas!
Laura Lee

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One of the greatest joys of working with Northland over the years has been to sit under the leadership of our Pastor Joel Hunter. Joel is passionate about Jesus and about people collaborating for the expansion of the Kingdom of God. When I think about Pastor Joel, I think of his as an inclusionist! He has the ability to reach across borders to people and groups who normally are not included in Christian community, those with disability and different faiths are welcome.

Northland Church is honored to host an information presentation for the just published book, Amazing Gifts. Mark Pinsky will be joined by a panel of special guests from across Central Florida, whose stories are included within this remarkable interfaith book. Together, they will share insights discovered along the way on how including those with disabilities within the life of a congregation ends up benefitting and blessing us all.
Amazing Gifts is the Alban Institute’s newest publication, authored by one of the nation’s premiere religious writers, Mark Pinsky. Throughout the book, Mr. Pinsky shares stories of everyday people from across the country, from places of worship of all sizes, and from congregations of all faiths, which convey the message: Including people with disabilities is not difficult – with thoughtful planning we can successfully include all of God’s people. In practical yet inspirational ways, each story provides helpful perspectives on how to better welcome everyone into the house of God. For as Mr. Pinsky found during his time spent with persons presented in the book, “Learning how to recognize the gifts and talents of children and adults with disabilities can transform congregations and their leaders.”
The panel discussion on the book Amazing Gifts is open to all media, special guests, and those interested in learning more about building upon your own congregation’s efforts towards welcome and inclusion. The presentation is Saturday afternoon, March 3, from 3:00-4:15 p.m., at Northland Church’s Main Worship Center at the Longwood Campus (Room 4209). At this free event, with light refreshments included, you will:
Receive a first-hand overview of the book from the author and heart-touching insights from the panelists;
Have the opportunity to meet the author, Mark Pinsky, and panelists whose stories are found in the book, Amazing Gifts;
Visit with others in from Central Florida’s interfaith community interested in or already including persons with disabilities at their worship sites;
Be able to purchase a copy of Amazing Gifts and have it autographed afterwards.
Be welcomed to attend Northland Church’s 5:00 p.m. worship service as special guests, just after the presentation.

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The Chair

This weekend, the Northland Serve Team took a road trip to Southwind, a camp which is owned and operated by YoungLife. YoungLife does outreach to those kids who have not met Jesus. Throughout the year, kids attend clubs where they play games, fellowship and here a little something about Jesus. Many of these same kids than attend camp.

Our job this weekend was to build the stage for YoungLife leaders to talk with kids about a relationship with Jesus. Over the years I have watched Southwind be transformed, into a place where relationships can be developed and can grow! One of the projects this weekend was to build chairs.

So what is the big deal about chairs? When chairs are set at a table or in small groups they help to facilitate growth in relationships, as relationships mature, leaders earn the right to have conversations with the kids who attend camp. I am praying for tons of conversations, further more I am praying those conversations lead to kids knowing they have a chair at Jesus’ table. I am sitting at the table praying for those kids, will you join me?

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