A Week at Family Retreat: Families’ Perspectives

By / May 18

Tenth’s Family Camp Program: Leaders’ Perspectives

By / May 18

One Anothering Luncheon

By / May 13


The presence of disability in a family has a significant impact on the entire family. Parents and adult siblings, along with extended family, close friends or those interested in concerns of families affected by disability are invited to come together for times of discussion, mutual encouragement, prayer, and fun. Come one another together.

Please join us for lunch from 1:00 PM to 3:00 PM in Fellowship Hall West.

Following our group luncheon, the kids will go to activity time while the adults have discussion.  Please register by e-mail with Kristen Harnley.

Mark your calendars for 2016 One Anothering Luncheons:


Children with Special Needs: One Anothering Luncheon

By / May 13


The presence of disability in a family has a significant impact on the entire family. Parents and adult siblings, along with extended family, close friends or those interested in concerns of families affected by disability are invited to come together for times of discussion, mutual encouragement, prayer, and fun. Come one another together.

Please join us for lunch from 1:00 PM to 3:00 PM at 1716 Spruce Street.

Following our group luncheon, the kids will go to activity time while the adults have discussion.  Please register by e-mail with Kristen Harnley.


God Is Our Sovereign Creator

By / Jan 8


On September 26, 1961, Randy was born to Bob and Aggie Lehman, who were serving as missionaries in Zimbabwe. They were surprised when the doctor said, “This is a Down syndrome baby.” They asked the doctor, a Christian, “What do we do?” He said, “Take him home and love him. Treat him like all your other kids.” Through their nine additional years on the mission field, Randy’s schooling, and until the end of his life, Bob and Aggie saw God’s provision for their family of seven and specifically for Randy’s needs. This included excellent schools in Zimbabwe, caring adults who watched out for him when he wandered away from home as he liked to do, and a wonderful church family in his adult life. They also saw God’s work in Randy, who had a simple, strong faith in Jesus and told others about him. 

Reflecting on his experiences as Randy’s brother, Thom says, “As a child, I looked up to Randy, my big brother. Later I realized his differences, but it was a normal sibling relationship in many ways. Randy expressed God’s image in many ways, including his acceptance of others regardless of their disability, skin color, or culture. He had the ability to see beauty in the ordinary, cared deeply for others, and frequently brought much needed comic relief!” 

Our voices declaring the value of each life need to be heard. In her Christianity Today, Thin Places blog post titled, “True or False: 90% of Babies with Down Syndrome are Aborted,” Amy Julia Becker highlights a study that showed that about 30% of babies with Down syndrome were selectively aborted. The study also highlighted the “role that culture plays in women’s decisions about prenatal testing and abortion.” Becker concludes, “We all can contribute to sustaining and creating a culture in which people with Down syndrome are welcomed and valued” (Becker, Amy Julia. Thin Places. April 1, 2015. Accessed January 5, 2016.)

When parents receive an adverse diagnosis during pregnancy, they usually fear the worst and forget about the potential blessings. Community and voices for life are important in these difficult times. If they choose abortion, they may miss out on special blessings or experiences that the Lord had for them. 

The desire for “perfection” from the human perspective is gaining ground. Genetic engineering promises power to limit disease, choose the sex of a child, and even select hair or eye color and other desired characteristics. In addition, wrongful life and wrongful birth lawsuits are occurring. In 2012, parents of a four-year-old girl with Down syndrome were awarded $2.9 million in a “wrongful birth” lawsuit. They claimed that had the prenatal testing correctly diagnosed Down syndrome, they would have terminated the pregnancy. (Carollo, Kim. “Parents Get $2.9M in Down Syndrome Girl ‘Wrongful Birth’ Suit”. ABC News. March 10, 2012. Accessed January 5, 2016.)

But advocating for and supporting life doesn’t end at birth; there are dangers throughout the life span. Threats of making or enhancing life to suit our desires or of taking life before natural death aren’t just the result of increased knowledge and technology or of cost-cutting policies. Ultimately these come from turning from God as our sovereign Creator and the source of human dignity. 

What do we, as Christians, have to say to these issues? We know that God is Creator and has ordained all the days of our lives. We know there is forgiveness, through Christ, for our sins in these areas. We know that God has called us, the body of Christ, to walk alongside others in their challenges. We are to display his glory to the world.

Do we believe God is the sovereign giver and taker of life? Are we willing to declare, through word and deed, God’s faithfulness to those around us? Take a stand for life. Pursue a friendship with those you know with disabilities or in a nursing home. Encourage parents and siblings of a person with a disability or terminal illness. Come alongside a mom or couple facing a difficult pregnancy. Provide assistance to these families. Choose and support life!

To learn more:

Attend Tenth’s Equip luncheons, designed to prepare Tenth to acknowledge Jesus before neighbors, family, and co-workers as the Spirit leads. Join us as we eat, study God’s word, and talk about disability on March 12, 2016. 

Visit partner websites: AlphaCare and Mission to North America Engaging Disability with the Gospel. Also see The Center for Bioethics and Human Dignity from Trinity International University.

Special Needs Prayer Gathering and a Sibling’s Story

By / Nov 23

A Sibling’s Story by John Capaldo

I would like to submit a glimpse as to the sphere of influence I have been given in knowing and serving those who cannot serve themselves. If you do not have someone in your life with special needs, you may think of handicapped individuals as children and adults who need to rely on the mercy and kindness of their family and friends to provide for their daily functioning and necessities. To some extent you would be right, but have you considered the impact they have on the lives of others?

I have a brother named Attilio, diagnosed with severe cerebral palsy and mental retardation. Attilio is not able to walk or even sit unsupported. He needed to be fed, clothed, toileted and bathed; totally dependent on the faithful and loving care of my Mom and Dad all during my formative years and young adulthood. I was present, helping and observing the daily effort required to give this child the same things any mother or father would want for their child. It was challenging and tiring for all of us throughout those years. However, God does not present people and circumstances in our lives without grace and blessing for both the giver and the receiver of mercy.

All during the time I served Attilio, I was being molded and shaped both in mind and spirit. God used Attilio to develop my character. He was a catalyst for the future events of my life. If Attilo was not in my life I would not have achieved my career goal to become a physical therapist and would not have become a man who has a heart for the least of these. So, what in our human understanding we may label as broken, God labels a gift. The gifts come in many forms; autism, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome. . . and the list goes on. But the reward, to those who serve as a family member or alongside others in the church, is an individually tailored blessing to and for your life. It is the life God has given you.

Special Needs Prayer Gathering by Kristen Harnly

Disability is a more noticeable form of the brokenness that we all experience due to the fall (Hubach). The noticeable presence of disability goes beyond the individual affected by the disability to significantly impact the entire family.

Parents and adult siblings, along with extended family, close friends, or those interested in concerns of families affected by disability are invited to come together for a separate time of discussion, mutual encouragement and prayer on Day of Prayer Sundays.

Families affected by disability face many challenges in finding opportunities to connect with one another, especially in a regional church like Tenth.  So, whether your child or loved one has a more mild or significant disability, come and join with others for encouragement and prayer. On November 30, we will get to know one another and plan for future gatherings which will begin with a topical discussion before prayer. May we use this time to grow in fulfilling the ’one anothers’ in Scripture: pray, love, build up, encourage and carry the burdens of one another! We need one another and will be strengthened as we come to our Lord in prayer together.

Join us on Sunday, November 30, at 9:00 AM, in 315 S. 17th Street, 3Rear.

For more information, email Kristen at [email protected] or Carroll at [email protected]

My Body Has Autism, But My Spirit Does Not

By / Feb 16

Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven”—Matthew 19:14. 

Two and a half years ago we relocated to Philadelphia. After planting and pastoring a church in Manhattan, my husband, Deryck, had enrolled to pursue further studies at Westminster Theological Seminary. We found great schools for the kids, a perfect job, a lovely home, and of course an excellent seminary! Now all that was left was to find a church we could call home—no small feat for our very particular family. 

On our list was: 

  • Excellent preaching, clear gospel proclamation and robust theology (thank you, Dr. Goligher!).
  • An invested community (evident in so many ways from our first visit to Tenth).
  • A wonderful children’s program (exceeded our expectations!).
  • A church that was outward-focused, a place where we could feel comfortable inviting neighbors or friends from work, a church that cared about reaching the city.

Of the many (and growing) ways in which Tenth is blessing and reaching out to those in our city, one that stood out and delighted me was to discover that we had a ministry for children with special needs. As a parent, I deeply appreciate children’s ministries: dedicated workers who love God and his Word, who come alongside parents in their biblical mandate to “bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). In addition, it allows me to fully participate in a Sunday service and be discipled under the Word of God, having peace of mind that my children are in good hands. For those who have tried to listen to a sermon while looking after a squirming toddler, you will, like me, have caught about 10% of the content at best! Imagine this multiplied for parents of children with special needs.

The Center for Disease Control’s latest statistics show that one in 88 children is diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). It is estimated that 14% of all children will have a disability of some sort. I love that as a church we are prepared and committed to teaching all children the Word of God, doing what we can to make church a safe and fun place and coming alongside these particularly courageous families. Barb Newman, in her book Autism and Your Church, tells the story of Jessica, a young woman diagnosed with ASD who insightfully says, “My body has autism, but my spirit does not.”

Just over a year ago I moved from admiring this ministry at a distance to actively serving in the classroom. I have been humbled and inspired by the parents as I get to know four of the children and how they make Sundays such fun! We learn God’s Word through stories, songs, and hands-on activities. We get to blow bubbles, smear shaving foam on the table, dig for objects in giant tubs of rice, and sing our favorite songs at the tops of our voices with actions to match! One is a great friend, always ensuring that the other three boys have what they need. Another never tires of listening to a Dr. Seuss book or singing a rousing version of a beloved song. And one has taught me all I know about bugs and continues to astonish me with how smart he is. And then there is the gentle, smiling soul who puts me to shame by having memorized Psalm 23! 

A great blessing to all of these families is that their children love to come to church! When you have a child with special needs, life is unpredictable, and the simplest of errands can become fraught with difficulty. To be able to come to church to listen to the Word of God, fellowship with friends, and know that your child is happy, safe, and growing with God is priceless.
Working as a pediatric occupational therapist at a local children’s hospital, I unashamedly brag about our Children with Special Needs Ministry! In a world where people are so cynical about the church and can list so many of her faults, it is wonderful to mention this as one of the ways we are blessing families in the city.

For more information about special needs ministries at Tenth, including volunteer opportunities during both morning services, email [email protected].

iPads Coming to Tenth CSN

By / Dec 18

This coming January Tenth's Children with Special Needs (CSN) ministry will be getting four iPads, funded through a matching grant by Mission to North America (MNA) Special Needs Ministries (SNM) and non-budget account monies.

The matching grant funds come from the 2010 WIC Love Gift which raised over $100,000 for MNA SNM. Tenth participated in the filming of the Love Gift video, which was distributed to churches to help them learn about MNA SNM, and now Tenth has benefitted from every phase of the Love Gift. We received a Gospel and Disability Educational Gift Pack. I was trained as MNA Special Needs Ministries Facilitator, and now we have received this matching grant.

The iPads will be used in our Children with Special Needs Bible School classes to engage our youth with one another and their Bible lessons.

We praise the Lord for this special gift and pray that it will be used to benefit our children and to glorify him.

Isaac Forde’s Testimony

By / Oct 13