Special Needs

Special Needs Ministry

St. Luke’s UMC believes that every individual be given the opportunity to find and give hope through Jesus Christ. We understand that accommodations and additional supports with our programming on Sundays would allow some children and youth to have a more meaningful experience. We are committed to working with families to ensure children and youth of all abilities can feel safe, supported, and encouraged to grow in their faith.

Special Needs Classroom

In 2022, we opened our Youth Special Needs Classroom at our North Indy campus! Adjusted programming is offered at 9:30AM each week in the Lodge for youth grades 5th-12th. Sensory-friendly supports, modified level activities, and a calming environment will be available in this space each week for youth who may thrive in a structure different than the typical small group structure offered for middle and high school students. Parents are encouraged to contact Crystal prior to their child's first visit so we can be ready to welcome your child!


Signup and get connected with our Special Needs Ministry.

What We Offer

We come alongside individuals from toddlers into adulthood to encourage continued faith development with the support of a community of believers. We have something for every age group. See more below:

Our specially trained team members have a desire to see every child experience Jesus on their level. We can provide sensory toys, rewards, and modifications as needed. Individual adjustments to the current programming are also accommodated for those who may benefit from more time in a smaller, quieter environment.  

We also have a buddy program that pairs up a child with special needs one on one with a team member in one of the typical kids ministry environments. Your child will experience Jesus through worship, teaching, and interactive activities alongside same-aged peers. 

Please note – buddies are provided as team members are available and may not be able to be offered for first-time guests. Please contact your campus ministry contact for more information. 

Staff and small group leaders are trained in strategies for including youth with various needs. Student Ministries offers several fun and engaging events throughout the year where leaders and specially trained team members can support youth with differing abilities alongside their peers. 

A buddy program is also available for Sunday mornings and various events where a team member is paired up with a youth with special needs one on one to provide support. Our staff and volunteers in Youth Ministry strive to include individuals from any background or ability level to foster growth in their faith and individual spiritual practices. Please contact your campus ministry contact to communicate any special requests or accommodations to church programming. 

We are currently seeking more individuals to volunteer with our buddy program. Contact Crystal Hensley at crystal.hensley@stlukesumc.com if you would like to hear more about getting involved! 

All individuals attending St. Luke’s UMC have ways to contribute to our community and grow in their personal faith journeys. We offer various small group studies throughout the year with specially trained staff and team members leading and supporting. Individual needs and strengths are considered in the types of discussions and activities for the small group meetings. Check out our current groups by going to stlukesumc.com/group-finder.

Team members also help adults get plugged into serving opportunities within the church based on spiritual gifts and interest areas. It is so important that interested individuals feel encouraged and supported in using their gifts to bless others.  

Support for Parents & Caregivers

Parents and caregivers of individuals with special needs have a unique journey that can be supported through community. Our small group that meets the second Sunday of each month is an opportunity to connect as parents in a community of faith. We share common ground in parenting a child, youth, or adult with special needs. We share time over snacks, conversation, devotion, and prayer. Childcare is always provided. Register here!


If you are a guest, visit our Children's Hospitality Desk located in East Passage just inside Door 16 where your child will receive a name tag and you will receive a parent sticker. This sign-in process ensures the safety of your child. Once signed in, we will walk you to your child's room.

We prioritize the safety of our children. Safe Sanctuaries are the guidelines we follow to keep our kids and students safe. Your kids’ well being is very important to us and we want to ensure we’re following every safety measure to ensure that.

Click here for the Safe Sanctuaries Policy and Procedures. Every volunteer 18 and older is required to pass a background check and complete a Safe Sanctuaries course before they’re approved to serve children and vulnerable adults at St. Luke's. In addition to security stickers, we also ensure that the nursery has at least one staff in each room who is trained in Infant and Pediatric First Aid/CPR and in each children's area outside of the nursery as well.  

Snacks are not served in any classroom. We ask you to verify allergies when you sign your child up and their allergies are printed on a sticker which is given to the volunteers in your child’s room. 

When food is served on special occasions and when potential allergens are used during an activity, allergy signs will be posted to alert parents. 

Yes! Every summer, we offer VBS to children up to those entering 4th grade. The theme changes every year to ensure your kids are learning something new and having fun. 

Not only do we have a buddy program for trained volunteers to partner with children who may benefit from extra support on Sunday mornings, we also have a small group for families raising children with special needs. This group meets once per month for meaningful discussions or fun outings. Childcare is always provided. Reach out to Crystal Hensley if you are interested in more information about the small group, receiving support for your child with our buddy program, or volunteering as a buddy! Crystal can also be contacted to communicate any special requests or accommodations to church programming.


Volunteer in our Special Needs Ministry

We need your help serving our special needs children and adults.