At Christian Opportunity Center(COC), our Christian Faith has always been a cornerstone of our organization, and we take extreme pride in that. COC’s Spiritual Services Team is designed to meet the spiritual needs of the COC community. Michelle De Bruin is COC’s Spiritual Facilitator; she holds a Bachelor’s Degree from Central College in Religion with an emphasis on Christian Ministries and Music. Here Michelle will go more into depth what our Spiritual Services provides for the COC People Supported and Staff.
Greetings. Welcome to Spiritual Services at COC. I’m Michelle De Bruin, the Spiritual Services Facilitator. I’ve been in this position since May of 2015, and I’m pleased to share with you all of the discipleship opportunities available to the people COC supports.
Our most well-known program is the Friendship Bible Hour. This ministry was developed by Friendship Ministries based in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Their mission is to share God’s love with people who have intellectual disabilities.
Friendship Bible Hour meets on Tuesdays during the school year at Faith Christian Reformed Church for an hour of Bible study, singing, prayer, and snacks. COC’s ICF department also participates in Bible studies because volunteers come to their homes to meet with them weekly. The volunteers who lead the Friendship Bible Hour program represent four local congregations.
Once a month, Friendship Bible Hour hosts social events on Tuesday evenings. People enjoy Thanksgiving parties, Valentine parties, Easter services, local singing groups, and puppet shows at these gatherings.
Spiritual Services hosts two retreats per year for people COC supports. One retreat is coming up in November. This retreat is attended by HCBS program recipients from Pella, Knoxville, and Indianola. We gather on a Saturday at Celebrate Community Church in Knoxville and enjoy praise and worship, teaching, craft making, a wonderful lunch provided by Pella Christian Schools, and spending time with our friends. This year’s retreat will focus on the Lord’s Prayer as the theme.
The second retreat is in April, also held at Celebrate Community Church in Knoxville. This retreat is for the ICF department and follows the same format of singing, teaching, making crafts, and enjoying lunch together.
Spiritual Services also provides Bible studies for people COC supports. In Pella, Bible study is offered during the break time two Wednesday mornings per month, and on Thursday afternoons twice per month.
On the opposite weeks, I travel to Oskaloosa for Bible study during the lunch hour on Thursdays. On Mondays of those same weeks, I travel to Indianola and Des Moines for Bible studies. We studied the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew chapters 5 to 7 during the summer. Currently, we are studying Jesus’ healing power and the commissioning of his disciples in Matthew chapters 9 and 10.
Oskaloosa’s program participates in their own retreat in November and a Christmas party in December. Both are hosted over extended lunch hours.
COC’s Spiritual Services also includes a team of leadership staff who work together to plan an annual retreat for COC staff. This year’s retreat occurred in September in three locations. Pella’s retreat was held in Third Reformed Church’s chapel. Oskaloosa’s retreat was at the Stillwaters Cabin on Steve and Jan Boender’s farm. The Indianola retreat was at the Ridgetop Horse Ranch near Milo. Our featured speaker this year was Sabra Dyas, founder of Main Street Ministries. The retreats include a catered lunch, praise and worship, presenting staff with gifts, and drawing for prizes.
Although the spiritual nurture component is a big part of COC’s unique identity, we respect the rights of the people we support to choose not to participate in spiritual nurture activities. However, the majority of our Staff and Persons Supported do take advantage of all that COC Spiritual Services has to offer. It has been a cornerstone that has led many families and staff to choose COC for services and employment. COC staff Temple Wright commented, “The retreats that Spiritual Services plans are so inspirational and I really enjoy how we come together as an organization.” If you would like more information on our Spiritual Services, contact Michelle at email@example.com