In Charlestown, New Hampshire, a ministry called The King’s Table is thriving. This ministry is led by Life Fellowship Church and provides a unique opportunity for collaboration between the church and the community. Adults impacted by cognitive disabilities often suffer from loneliness and lack social opportunities. The mission of The King’s Table is “to provide opportunities for participants to grow spiritually, make lasting friendships, use individual gifts and talents, support each other, and let God’s light shine through each one.”
The focus of the ministry is meeting a spiritual need for adults impacted by disabilities through an evangelistic outreach to their community. The Kings Table is founded on the story in 2 Samuel 9 when King David invites Mephibosheth (a man affected by disability) to dine with him at his table every day for the rest of his life.
This ministry was founded by Mike and Carol Gibson. The Gibson’s have spent many years serving as home providers to individuals affected by disability and are adoptive parents to several adults with cognitive disabilities.
Years ago, the Gibsons were involved with a Bible study for adults with disabilities. Over time, members of the group were no longer able to participate and the Bible study was discontinued. The Gibsons and their adoptive children missed this fellowship, so Carol and Mike decided to start a new group. They approached Joni and Friends for ideas and curriculum suggestions. After praying and talking with other willing volunteers in their church, Mike and Carol decided to launch a new group called The King’s Table.
Due to their experience as home providers to adults with disabilities, the Gibson’s have built strong relationships with social service agencies and other organizations that support the disability community. Through this network and their church community, the ministry has grown quickly. They have never needed to advertise, and the number of people attending their group continues to grow!
The King’s Table meets twice a month through the school year in a church on the New Hampshire-Vermont border. The Gibson’s shared that they “started with a team of three couples from our church who have been very faithful, and God has added many volunteers who help with every part of the meeting. Fellowship between those who come is wonderful.”
During their gatherings, the group spends time in fellowship, prayer, and worship. They also spend time engaging with a Bible lesson. Mike and Carol like to use drama or skits to help the members of their group visualize truths from God’s Word; “Mostly, we teach about Jesus; who He is and what He’s done for us. We share faith and hope in Christ to practically help our group members to face life in the real world; how to make good choices. We seek to instill the love of God into the hearts of our group.” In addition to regular meetings, they connect with their community by singing Christmas Carols, making presentations at events, and taking field trips. They even attend a Joni and Friends Family Retreat as a group outing.
As the Gibson’s consider the ministry’s future, they hope it continues to grow at a pace that affords them the opportunity to know each member on an individual basis. They are also praying that the number of volunteers serving with them will grow as the ministry grows. They dream that perhaps their ministry will become a model that other churches follow, creating more places for adults affected by disability to be included and fully belong.
Through The Kings Table, Life Fellowship Church is now reaching individuals of various religious backgrounds as well as several different agencies from surrounding towns. Mike and Carol excitedly share that God has blessed them with the opportunity to serve in the most joyful, rewarding ministry. They are humbled to see the many lives that are being impacted for Christ; they believe The Kings Table is close to God’s heart. Like Mephibosheth, the Gibson’s feel that they are “eating at the King’s Table” with God’s sons and daughters who love with genuine and sincere hearts. Barriers are removed and everyone is equal in His sight.
Liz Babbitt has served on staff at Joni and Friends since 2009; she currently serves as the Church Relations Manager for Joni and Friends New England. Liz holds a Master’s Degree in Education from Penn State. She and her husband Doug live in Groveland, MA. They have two adult children and five adorable grandchildren!