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Embracing Ministries Launch

Embracing Ministries Launch

Thu 12 January 2017

Going to church is something that many abled-bodied people simply take for granted. We don’t have to think about getting in the front door, finding a seat or following the service book.

It’s not so simple for families with children who have special needs. Getting children out the door can be hard enough for many parents. For those caring for those with special needs, just parking the car can be difficult. Church doors are often too narrow and steps create an insurmountable barrier for those in wheel chairs. The sounds of organs, singing and guitars can be overwhelming for those with autism.

On Friday 9 December an initiative designed to help such families grow in discipleship celebrated its first few months of operation in Canberra.

As the Revd Andrea de Vaal Horciu, the Coordinator of Embracing Ministries explained, ‘what we’re creating are spaces designed to support and nurture the spiritual life of families, youth and children with special needs’.

Andrea was inspired to develop Embracing Ministries at a time when she was helping a family whose young daughter was in palliative care. Working as a chaplain in a special needs school, Andrea became aware how many had few opportunities to connect with anything spiritual.

Embracing Ministries started in October with a holiday program for 12 young people with a variety of needs. The Spring program introduced many young people to the story of God’s creation through tactile activities, whether it was a petting zoo, music therapy or books they could touch and feel. Every part of the program was designed around the youths’ capacity and needs.

A key feature of the program was the development of mentors or young adults who befriended and assisted participants with activities and the Gospel each day. Mentors came from a range of schools including Trinity Christian School, Canberra Girls Grammar School and Brindabella College.

Penny, a parent, shared about the holiday program’s significance to her daughter who has epilepsy and autism. ‘Finding programs where the beauty of these kids is embraced is so important but so difficult to find. There can be so much talk about inclusion today but it doesn’t always happen. As a mother, I was impressed by the commitment to get to know the children before they even stepped in the door. As a parent, it comforted me greatly knowing my child could settle easily with mentors who worked with them as friends.’

Embracing Ministries has secured some funding for 2017 but the ministry needs your help. Andrea’s goal is to raise $25,000 for the programs and a part time ministry co-ordinator. To become a valued partner in Andrea’s work, donate at or contact her directly by email at:

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