Some years ago, College Community Church in Fresno, California, started the Friendship Class for children with developmental disabilities. These children are adults now, others have joined them, and the class continues. After sharing craft and Bible lessons with the class, I learned that Tom, one of the members, wanted to be an usher.
When I joined the congregation, I volunteered to be an usher as a way of serving and learning families and names. So I approached our coordinator of ushers about Tom. I waited...and waited, with no response.
Finally, since Tom’s interest in ushering continued, I took the initiative to make him my ushering partner. We passed church bulletins together and guided people to seating and friends. Tom seemed most comfortable when I handled the bulletins. He took responsibility for bringing in the offering bags before the service.
At first I stood beside him as he passed the offering bags to every other row of members. Now he receives the offering on one side of the church, and another usher handles the other side. Tom enjoys passing the microphone and spotting the hands raised for announcements. Usually I am seated and watching in case he needs assistance. Tom also counts the money accurately. Sometimes we double check our totals, but I am as capable of errors as he is.
Tom was doing so well I thought perhaps I was hovering too much. I gave him more and more space, and then asked if he felt ready to be independent. He did, so we parted for awhile. Later he confided that he still liked ushering, but would feel better if I would return as his partner.
He is very independent but likes my presence. So I am looking forward to this Sunday ushering with Tom. I will meet and greet and offer bulletins, and Tom will do everything else. I know he will ask if he would like my help. I am sharing names and family relationships with him, and he is gradually learning to know the entire congregation.
Mari Janzen attended College Community Church Mennonite Brethren, Fresno, CA.