Luke 14 Celebration reaches out to families of disabled
By Melanie Tucker | (firstname.lastname@example.org)
About 250 members of this community turned out for the third annual Luke 14 Celebration that was about more than some fun games, a cake walk and jaw-dropping entertainment.
The event, held at Dotson Memorial Baptist Church in Maryville on Saturday, was a celebration for disabled individuals and their families. Photos were taken, T-shirts handed out and lunch was served as puppet shows and an Elvis impersonator provided participants lots to smile about. David Oliver, a member of the committee that organized the Luke 14 Celebration, said the idea behind this celebratory day is to let special needs individuals know they matter and are loved.
Luke 14 refers to a parable in the Bible where a wealthy man was preparing a great banquet and asked his servants to invite his friends. One by one they came up with excuses why they couldn’t attend.
The host then told the servants to go back out among the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, crippled, blind and lame. It’s a story of rejection but also mercy and grace.
Luke 14 Celebrations have been held everywhere. Joni Eareckson Tada has been the force behind these celebrations. She was in a diving accident in 1967 when she was 17 and was paralyzed from the neck down. She is now founder and chief executive officer of Joni and Friends International Disability Center. The mission of Joni and Friends is to motivate new generations of people with disabilities to become leaders in their churches and communities.
Dotson has been hosting this Luke 14 Celebration for three years. They have been assisted with planning by Alcoa First Baptist Church and Fairview United Methodist Church. Others like Pleasant Grove Baptist Church, Forest Hill Baptist, New Hope Baptist and Immanuel Baptist are sponsors along with Chilhowee Baptist Association. They provided volunteers and other support.
“This is a special day for people with disabilities to come with their families and caregivers to let them know they are special,” Oliver said.
Oliver is a member at Dotson Memorial Baptist. The church has a Sunday school for disabled people, called the Sunshine Class. It meets every Sunday. Dotson also has a deaf ministry.
At the celebration on Saturday, attendees were entertained by a group called the Sunshine Ambassadors, a dance team made up of special needs individuals. Oliver’s daughter Christi is a member.
Paul Myers was the highlight of the day, Oliver said. He is an Elvis impersonator who is always a crowd-pleaser.
The weather was perfect for this event that was held both indoors and out. Oliver said they will more than likely continue this popular event. An area-wide Bible school for the disabled might also be something offered down the road.
Blount County Mayor Ed Mitchell was present and issued a proclamation. Other highlights of the day included the showing of a Joni and Friends DVD. Burt Cannon was the speaker.