Monday, September 21, 2015

Warren church reaching out to minister to the disabled

To find out more information, call (586) 751-1721 or visit

By JERRY WOLFFE          

A Warren church will start an “inclusion ministry” program on Oct. 1 to focus on helping fulfill the spiritual and social needs of people with disabilities.

“Jesus was the first advocate for people with disabilities,” said Marijo Hockley, who has earned a Master’s of Divinity degree and will coordinate the ministry.

“We want to get people like myself that haven’t (felt included in a faith community) and help them feel more comfortable about coming to services and talking about God,” said Hockley of Madison Heights. She uses a power wheelchair because she has arthrogryposis, a congenital disability where two or more joints in the body are frozen, eliminating range of motion.

Currently, “four or five people with disabilities” attend the accessible church, The First Presbyterian Church of Warren, which is located at 3000 East 12 Mile Road in Warren.

The open house will be from 4:30 p.m.-6:30 p.m. on Oct. 1 and attendees will have a dinner, see a video, “God’s Beautiful Creation,” and have a time for fellowship, Hockley said. Inclusion meetings will then be held the first Thursday of every month thereafter.

“We want to make sure everyone feels comfortable,” she said. “We’re hoping this program will create a faith-space within our church that will let people with disabilities learn to express their own unique voices as part of God’s good creation.”

The Rev. Julie Delezenne of First Presbyterian helped Hockley win a grant from the Detroit area Presbytery to fund the program for a year.

“When I first started out in ministry, I didn’t want to be the ‘disabled pastor,’ but God called me to do something and I need to show people I have been called to do God’s work,” Hockley said.

Register on the website or call so the church can prepare enough food for those in attendance, Hockley said.

Jerry Wolffe is the writer-in-residence, advocate-at-large at the Macomb-Oakland Regional Center. He can be reached at (586) 263-8950.