About this blog:

Discussing religion, spirituality and values. Amy Umble is the religion reporter for The Free Lance-Star. You can email her at
RSS feed of this blog

When worship isn’t peaceful

I’m just coming back from a week of vacation, and one of the things I missed was my regular perusing of the Faith & Leadership blog from Duke Divinity School. And last week, they had a really interesting story from a mom describing church with a child with disabilities.

Heather Moffitt talks about how her son–who has multiple diagnoses–couldn’t behave in church and the reactions she received. It brought back a lot of memories from my sons’ younger years. Our oldest son has severe autism and to this day, couldn’t sit still for a worship service (he’s 13 now). When he was a toddler and we felt sure he’d learn to behave in church at any moment, my husband and I spent a lot of time wandering church hallways with our son. And Sunday mornings, which had always been my favorite time of the week became the worst moments of our lives.

So I could appreciate this description from Moffitt:

I dreaded Sunday mornings. We’d pull into the parking lot of the church and I would be in a state of prayer — praying we could get through an entire service before we would have to leave, praying he wouldn’t have an epic tantrum in the pews, praying he wouldn’t attack other children, and praying that people would be nice to us. Some weeks we made it through church OK; many weeks either my husband or I would spend most of the service trying to find a place to go where our son’s screams couldn’t be heard in the sanctuary. Other weeks we would give up and go back home.

I loved how Moffitt didn’t talk about how her son made the congregation change but how the experience taught her about brokenness.

Even though I’ve long known how to behave in church, I’ve had to accept how to be broken in church. I wanted to be praised for my parenting instead of healed from my hurt. I thought I was seeking spiritual formation for my son, and discovered I needed it for my own soul.


  • kimcmitch

    I know that feeling, even when it comes to my non-disabled children who were simply acting their age. It’s too easy to think parents cannot control their children, when the community should be looking at ways to help bring the family closer to faith.