Are you searching for ideas that you can use to promote autism awareness in your faith-based community? Are you wanting to reach out to those with autism and their families, but you aren’t sure how to do it? If so, you’ve come to the right place. This post is your personal invitation to join the Autism Faith Network!
The Autism Faith Network was founded in 2016 with the goal of promoting autism awareness in faith-based communities. Our reach has grown each year, with our April 2019 activities being our most successful to date! We were blessed with participation from 22 churches located all over the United States. As a result, over 10,000 people learned about autism at their place of worship! This could not have happened without the support of our network churches, marketing team, prayer team and donors.
About Our Network
The Autism Faith Network is designed to encourage places of worship to do activities that promote autism awareness. We believe that awareness is the first step to creating a more inclusive environment at our places of worship.
It is our hope that places of worship participating in the network will become more aware of the barriers that keep special needs families from attending worship services. With that knowledge, we hope that they will become more accepting of persons with disabilities and provide more inclusive activities and services.
Participation in the network involved several steps. First, each church was asked to do at least one activity for autism awareness month in April. The churches were given a wide variety of options to choose from. However, they were free to choose their own activity that met the needs of their congregation. A Facebook group was available for all participating churches. Participants received educational materials, information about the network and opportunities to collaborate with other churches. Upon completion of their activity, churches were asked to turn in a picture of their event and fill out an evaluation form. Lastly, each church that completed the program received a letter of thanks, a certificate of participation and social media recognition.
This year, we chose to add five award categories to recognize places of worship and persons that have done an exceptional job with their activity. Our award winners will be announced in a future post.
2019 Participating Churches
Here’s a list of all participating churches and a link to their websites. Maybe one of these churches is near you!
- Bethesda Church of God – Sumter, SC
- Calvary Baptist Church – Rocky Mount, NC
- Christian Fellowship Center – Jacksonville, FL
- Christian Fellowship Church – Warner Robins, GA
- El Bethel Missionary Baptist Church – Columbus, MS
- Faith-Now Christian Ministries – Raeford, NC
- Go|Real Faith Church – Albany, GA
- High Praise Orlando – Casselberry, FL
- High Praise Panama City – Panama City, FL
- Immaculate Conception Roman Catholic Church – Ransomville, NY
- Mocksville Second Presbyterian Church – Mocksville, NC
- Mt. Olive Baptist Church – Smiths Station, AL
- Orange Grove Missionary Baptist Church – Durham, NC
- Rapha Ministries Family Center – Fayetteville, NC
- Royal Missionary Baptist Church – North Charleston, SC
- St. Paul AME Zion Church – McColl, SC
- South End Missionary Baptist Church – Fayetteville, NC
- South Metro Ministries – Sharpsburg, GA
- Union Baptist Church – Durham, NC
- Willow Grove AME Church – Horatio, SC
- Word and Worship Christian Center – Sumter, SC
- Word in Season Ministries – Warner Robins, GA
Participating Church Activities
The slideshow below highlights the activities that each church chose to do.
See what our church leaders had to say about their participation in the network!
“Everyone enjoyed the collective approach to recognizing the efforts to raise awareness. I love being a part of something that gets me actively involved in advocacy. The network is organized, positive, and growing.” – Stephanie
“Love it and love the availability of information. Especially the personal testimonies.” – Jackie
“I am very impressed with the organization and multiple churches involved.” – Dorothy
“I was very pleased to be a part of this initiative and feel that it’s very much needed. I look forward to future involvement.” – Meochia
“This was very insightful and something to keep on the altar of prayer because there is a need for ministry to these wonderful parents and children who have a desire to serve God also.” – Cathy
“We always have positive feedback, especially from the parents who attend our church and have autistic children. I love that this organization exists to raise awareness/shed light.” – Celeste
“We had several people express their gratitude for us raising awareness and continuing to be inclusive for people with special needs. I am incredibly impressed by the incredible work and improvements even over the last year. The resources have been so helpful!” – Chelsea
“This is a great way for the people of God to get involved and to incorporate all of his children.” – RaShannda
“I think it’s a great avenue to connecting special needs groups to churches with accessibility. Would definitely do it again.” – DeBorah
“God is doing some amazing things through this network!” – Tawanda
We were blessed with the support of several persons and organizations. Their support contributed to our success for this year and we are grateful for them all!
Jocelyn Green donated three copies of, “Refresh: Spiritual Nourishment for Parents of Children with Special Needs.” She co-wrote this devotional book with Kimberly Drew. The books were included in a giveaway for churches participating in the network. We appreciate Jocelyn’s support year after year!
Sandra Peoples donated a copy of her most recent book, “Unexpected Blessings: The Joys and Possibilities of Life in a Special-Needs Family.” This book was included in a giveaway for special needs parents. In addition, Sandra also donated a shirt to the winner that read: Unexpected Journey, Unexpected Blessings. Sandra is a writer and blogger that ministers to the special needs community. We appreciate her for sowing into our network!
South Metro Ministries made a financial contribution, which was used to purchase awards for our churches and network leaders who went above and beyond to promote autism awareness. We are thankful that they saw fit to be a blessing to our network!
Brianna Roach donated four t-shirts with the Autism Faith Network logo on them. The shirts were worn at the Autism Speaks Walk in Atlanta, GA to help spread the word about what we do! If you would like to know more about Brianna’s work, visit her Facebook page at BT Designs.
Our marketing and prayer teams also deserve honor for spreading the word about what we do and praying for God to lead us and guide us! They started in January and diligently worked until the end of April. Our prayer team even held a special time of prayer on March 31st for persons with autism, their families, places of worship and community resources!
Last but not least, I would like to thank our five judges that made award determinations for this year!
I’m looking forward to our activities for next year! We will start recruiting places of worship in January 2020. Please send us a message here if you would like to be a part of our network activities for April 2020. Be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to stay updated with all of our upcoming events!
Our parish, Saint Bernadette in Orchard Park, New York is interested in participating in the Autism Faith Network.
Can you send us the toolkit for organizing an event in April?
We have an Open Doors Ministry and one of the moms, Tobi Stewart is interested in chairing this project.
Wonderful! Thanks for joining us! I will be sending you an email soon with a little more detail. – Tonya