A special sermon for those with special needs

Pastor Jack Winkle administers a sermon for the special service that included a program designed for individuals with special needs, Sunday, Dec. 22, 2019. Gilbert Bernal/The Signal
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Special-needs families face challenges that many other families don’t, such as attending long church sermons, which is exactly why Calvary Chapel Golden Valley decided to create a special service designed specifically for them.

Sunday was the first of a new, weekly “special service” designed for sound-sensitive individuals and only 30 minutes long.

“You’ll notice just a bass player, no drums,” Julie Winkle said, adding, “a lot of our kids don’t like that sensory (overload) … It’s just way too much, so I think that was where the idea came from to have a service … that meets their needs.”

In addition, volunteers stepped up to provide security, as some of those with special needs are known to be runners, so families aren’t worried about their kids running into traffic, while others assisted in calming kids during the service, as many don’t sit still for long.

“Our church here has been great … but for some people, it is hard to pay attention,” Winkle added. “This way, there’s the best of both worlds.”

In fact, when Julie and her husband Jack, who is now the lead pastor, attended their first service at the church about four years ago, their son Noah ran up onto the pulpit with the pastor.

“The previous pastor was teaching and worked it into the message 30 seconds later, and said, ‘Most of you here know, but I don’t think the new family knows, I’m a one-on-one aide at Valencia High School for an autistic boy,’” Jack said. “God provides.”

“We were home,” added Julie.

Pastor Jack Winkle, Noah (son), Julie (wife), Monica Baca and Giovanni (son) attend a short service at Calvary Chapel of Golden Valley in Canyon for special-needs families designed for sound-sensitive individuals, Sunday, Dec. 22, 2019. Gilbert Bernal/The Signal

Since then, the Winkles have continued attending the church, and Jack took over for the previous pastor about two years ago.

“We in the special-needs community face challenges that other families don’t experience, or other families don’t even understand, but God knows — He sees, and He wants to comfort us in the darkness of times,” Jack said during the sermon.

Jack said he believes this type of service is needed in the community, and many who attended agreed.

“This is the spark of something very special,” Vincent Baca said. “There’s a lot of families that want to attend, but, unfortunately, there were no accommodations to do it (until now).”

The Baca family, who have actually known the Winkles since their son Giovanni was little, said they were overjoyed to find out about the special service.

“We’ve been to many services, many churches … and we’ve never been able to attend a service as a family until now,” Monica Baca said, adding that Giovanni felt so comfortable that he was dancing during the service. “It just felt so good to worship together as a family.”

Starting Jan. 5, Calvary Chapel Golden Valley is scheduled to host a 30-minute, special service for sound-sensitive individuals weekly on Sundays. For more information, visit calvarychapelgv.squarespace.com or call 661-252-5161.

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