Friendship Ministries, Celebrating 30 Years

Since our inception 30 years ago, Friendship Ministries has believed that the Church is complete only when it includes all of God’s people. To that end, we have worked diligently to encourage and equip congregations to minister with intellectual disabilities. Our unique model for ministry has quickly become the standard for congregations around the world, and we have been blessed with friends, mentors, colleagues, and partners who have graciously supported Friendship’s mission in their own communities.

Since our inception 30 years ago, Friendship Ministries has believed that the Church is complete only when it includes all of God’s people. To that end, we have worked diligently to encourage and equip congregations to minister with intellectual disabilities. Our unique model for ministry has quickly become the standard for congregations around the world, and we have been blessed with friends, mentors, colleagues, and partners who have graciously supported Friendship’s mission in their own communities.

Friendship Ministries currently serves congregations in 28 countries. We have more than 1,100 programs that serve 75 different denominations, both Catholic and Protestant. Many congregations offer shadow and buddy programs, but our mentoring program has proven to be the most compelling and valuable. Because of their one-on-one mentoring relationships with members of a church community, friends learn to fully appreciate and understand the love God has for each of them. As a result, friends become full, participating members of their congregations, often being baptized, or confirmed. Staff in group homes consistently tell us that these relationships are the only community relationships that their clients have and that Friendship is considered the highlight of the week.

Our program impacts and influences our friends, but also has a significant, worthy impression on our mentors and churches. Mentors are often surprised by the great joy our friends exude, and they are also overwhelmed and inspired by their deep and trusting faith. Churches, similarly, are surprised by the influence of Friendship. One congregation recently shared that their group of friends unknowingly taught them the importance of diversity within their church and, as a result, the church has become more eager in their efforts to reach out to their community. Another congregation, located in Brooklyn, Michigan, recently contributed to a sock drive for a local shelter, after their Friendship program encouraged their participation.

This spring we expect to celebrate the work that Friendship Ministries has done – and continues to do – with a Friendship Challenge, a 2K walk that partners members of our community with individuals with intellectual disabilities. Stay tuned for more information!

The work that Friendship Ministries has done – and continues to do – is done only through the support and encouragement of our partners throughout the world. Thank you for sharing and encouraging us in our mission. We are grateful.

For more information on Friendship Ministries, please visit www.friendship.org.

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