Beyond Limits Brings Gospel To The Developmentally Disabled

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Dana Qualls greets her friends at the door to Mountain Bible Church with a big smile and a handshake.

It is not Sunday morning, but Tuesday evening. Qualls is participating in Beyond Limits, a once-a-month service tailored to the needs of developmentally disabled people and their families.

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Charlotte Casey, a member of Mountain Bible Church, plays the autoharp.

"I like to see all my friends," Quall said.

"I lost my dad March 23, 2006. This is my family now. My mom is in Texas, but she comes with me sometimes," Quall adds.

A different Rim Country church hosts Beyond Limits each month. In February it was at Crossroads Foursquare Church, in March at Mountain Bible and in April it will be at The Church on Randall Place in Pine.

There were 42 people at Mountain Bible meeting for a spaghetti dinner, music, sermon and craft.

"It is very uplifting to see someone with the same challenges and know you aren't alone," BL advisory board member Annie Spencer said.

Attendance varies from 25 to 60 according to Jennie Smith, a Beyond Limits board member.

Camaraderie was evident throughout the spaghetti dinner. Conversations ranged from what was going on in life to the mourning of lost friends, setting up a new apartment and camping plans.

Smith and her husband, Mark, along with Spencer and Jane Bonn, started Beyond Limits in 2005 patterned after a similar program the Smiths and their children were involved in when they lived in California.

"We sensed a need," Bonn said.

"We prayed about it and started it up," Spencer added.

They decided on once a month to encourage BL members to become active in their own congregations.

"We feel like it is a ministry not just to people with disabilities but to their families as well. Often families don't feel like they fit in to churches," Bonn said.

"We see many of them develop very special gifts to be comfortable and serve in their own congregations. By that I mean they have learned to take offering or be greeters at the door of the church," Jennie Smith said.

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Richard Shaw usually plays gospel music on his accordion during Beyond Limits services.

Singing, often led by a particular church's worship leader is ever a key ingredient of the Tuesday service.

John Locke has been attending BL services for several years. He likes listening to and singing along with the music.

So does Todd Orr.

Chris and her mother, Clydene Philips, come for the crafts and the music and to spend time in worship together.

Senior Richard Shaw is always ready to get together with people. He usually brings the accordion he has played since 1940 and after the opening prayer, plays hymns.

Charlotte Casey, a member of Mountain Bible Church led people in hymns as she played her autoharp.

She sang verses twice of an unfamiliar song so everyone could join in to the choir.

"I want to hear your voices drown out mine as we sing to Jesus," Casey said.

After the musical portion of the evening, pastor Terry Cadwell related his experience as a boy seeking the gospel.

Occasionally, a performance by developmentally disabled singers in Rainbow Acres Ranch Choir rounds out the evening before the benediction. During the March service, people got to make a craft -- a "He is risen" cross with flowers.

"The bright colors of spring symbolize the risen Lord," Casey said.

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Congregational singing is an integral part of Beyond Limits, the disability ministry in Payson.

The next BL service is hosted by The Church on Randall Place on April 8.

Carpools are meeting at Mountain Bible at 5:30 p.m.

People who would like to RSVP or simply wish more information may contact the Smiths at (928) 468-8434.

"This kind of organization has brought parents and caregivers together for support and has given young people a chance to interact socially and hear a message," Becky Karras, a mother who brings her son to BL, said.

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