Special Needs Ministry

Welcome to our Special Needs Ministry!

Our special needs ministry (Barnabas) exists to glorify God by sharing the love of Jesus Christ and the truths of His Word with children and adults with special needs while supporting and encouraging their families through participation in the church body.

A Letter from Pastor Troy Dobbs

Dear Families with Special Needs Individuals,

The pastors and staff of Grace Church welcome you! 

Knowing that families with special needs face unique difficulties and challenges with church involvement, we want you to know we value your presence here.  Our goal is to provide the support you need to worship and grow in your own faith journey.

Our special needs ministry has trained volunteers to help you navigate Sunday mornings and settle your child into an appropriate Sunday school class.  They can also answer any questions you have about our church ministries and small group connections.  We are glad you are at Grace!

God’s Blessings,

Troy Dobbs
Senior Pastor, Grace Church

A Letter from Karen Anderson

Dear Families with Special Needs,

I'm Karen Anderson, the Director of the Special Needs Ministry at Grace Church. Thanks for checking out our ministry.  You will see various options for Sunday school, parent groups, Respite Nights, Prayer Team support, and several other activities that we want to make available to you.

A big church can be an overwhelming experience for a family – much less one that deals with the challenges of special needs! It's important to us that you, as parents and siblings, get into the Sunday service every week so you can sit under the teaching of God's Word and experience the fellowship of other believers. But just as important is providing a safe and appropriate setting for your special needs child or young person so that they, too, can hear about Jesus, know His love and experience loving relationships with God's people.

Look over the ministry and when you're ready, give me a call.  I look forward to hearing from you.

Karen Anderson

Special Needs Programs

Choose a Location:

We hope to partner with you to ensure the best care for your child during Sunday mornings at Grace Church Chaska. We will be providing one-on-one care or our “buddy system” for each child on a needed basis. For questions, feel free to contact Amy McGowan at

Special needs programs are offered for kids through adults on Sundays during the 10:40a service. Contact Karen Anderson at with any questions.

Respite Nights

Select Fridays, 6p-9p

For any families within the community who have special needs children, we have respite nights a few times a year. Kids enjoy a full-size gym, crafts, toys, legos, movies, and snacks while parents and caregivers enjoy a night off.

Drop off your children (even those who are siblings to those with special needs) to hang out with volunteers. Any child with a disability who needs extra supervision will be paired up with a buddy for the evening.

Our respite nights also create great opportunities to serve (we'll make sure you're equipped and ready to go!) Click the link below for more information on dates and how to get signed up.

View Upcoming Respite Nights

Want to be added to our email list, or have questions about respite nights as a participant or volunteer? Please contact:

Info and Resources

Lending Library

These materials are located in the special needs ministry's hallway where they can be checked out. For more information or to check on an item’s availability, please contact Karen at  or 612-869-8803.


An electronic newsletter is sent near the beginning of each month to our special needs ministry families and volunteers. It contains a devotional, notification of upcoming events, and general interest articles. New families are automatically added to the mailing list. Contact us if you are not receiving our newsletter: 
 or 612 270-3862.

Prayer Team

One of the many blessings of the Special Needs Ministry is the fact that we have our own prayer team. This team of around 65 prayer warriors regularly lifts up the prayer requests of our ministry, our families, and our volunteers.

Sue Kabala is our Prayer Coordinator. She can be reached at  . Whenever you have a prayer request, contact Sue, and she will email the team ASAP. You may request that it be confidential; using no names.

Also, Dale and Karen Anderson and Chuck and Karen Peterson are available day or night for emergency prayer and crisis. 
Dale and Karen Anderson: 612-869-8803 
Chuck and Karen Peterson: 952-278-4292  

We would like to encourage you to make use of this ministry. Be assured that you are covered in prayer by a group of people who genuinely care for your family and this ministry, and we have a Heavenly Father Who hears and answers prayer.

Serving in our Special Needs Ministry

Here are testimonies of two people who joyfully serve in our Special Needs Ministry. Prayerfully consider joining us!

Russ Adamson 
God tugged on my heartstrings to stretch my faith. The ministry was [Grace's Special Needs Ministry], and I was skeptical. "Really Lord?" I thought. "Volunteering with disabled children?" I had zero experience, but God showed me ‘You don’t need experience, only love!’ In obedience, I walked through the door into the ministry, and it has impacted my life and faith in ways I never knew possible. I have been immeasurably blessed in a ministry where no experience is necessary – just a love for God’s precious children.

John Cooper
For more than 12 years, my wife Kathy and I, have enjoyed our part in the Special Needs Ministry. While she helps with the little kids, I help out with the adults, whom I have seen grow and mature - not only physically, but also in their individual spiritual lives as well.  I can site a number of examples of individuals who have grown from superficial Sunday attendance to a deeper and meaningful relationship with the Lord.  It is evident in the prayer time we share where we hear firsthand their prayers and petitions to the Lord Jesus. Truly a blessing.

More About Serving in Barnabas
Most of our volunteers come to us with no background in disability, but sense God’s calling to serve Him in this unique ministry. We have had volunteers come from Senior High, College, and Singles as well as several couples and some families who want to serve together.  Usually, they come and learn, fall in love with our kids and realize what a privilege it is to be a part of the spiritual growth and encouragement of the kids and their families. Often, the volunteers mention that they are the ones being blessed!

Frequently, our families come to us very needy and in many different stages, requiring us to give what only the Holy Spirit can do through us. We want our volunteers to weekly attend worship and maintain a growing, living, personal, relationship with Christ. They are to be praying for the students and their families and be ready to serve by conscientiously preparing and offering their best.  Our families and students need to be able to depend upon us for them to attend, so we need to be reliable, leaning on one another, making our role in the Barnabas ministry a high priority.

All Barnabas volunteers participate in a day-long training in the fall where we begin our time together with a testimony or inspirational piece reminding all of us of Christ’s call on our lives and how He would have us minister. We then move on to focus on general disability information, using a variety of training approaches – local speakers, DVDs, and several different resources.  We have one of our Registered Nurses review safety procedures like Heimlich Maneuver, CPR, how to use the Epi-Pen and what an asthma attack and seizures look like. We plan out the year, selecting curriculum and dividing up tasks.  Each department discusses their specific students and the challenges they bring.  We get up to speed on church procedures and paperwork and take a look at upcoming events. For continuing education, we like to add an inspirational or informational speaker once or twice a year.  Also, updated information will be distributed on Sunday mornings or through email. At the close of the year which is around Memorial Day we enjoy a wrap-up luncheon celebrating the year and sharing vision.

If you are interested in looking into the possibility of becoming a Barnabas Volunteer, included below are a number of downloads pertinent to volunteering.  Contact me with your questions at 612 869-8803 or  . We can set up an informal interview and make arrangements for a walkthrough of our program.

Support for Families

As the parent of a child with special needs, you are well aware of the challenges. We are a lay couple who provide pastoral support and are also parents of a daughter with special needs.

Our goal is to reach out and support parents during difficult times. Often special needs parents feel alone and isolated.  As representatives of the Barnabas ministry, we are available to walk alongside parents during those hard times.

In John 13:34 Jesus speaks of loving one another.  Galatians 6:2 says, "Bear one another's burdens, and in this way, you will fulfill the law of Christ."

Examples of some of the things we do:

  • Visit and pray with parents.
  • Refer parents to professional help when needed.
  • Visit in hospitals during hospitalizations of a child or parent.
  • Take meals to families.
  • Attend school activities or functions a child is involved in.

We would be happy to meet with you!

Chuck and Karen Peterson 
h: 952 278-4292
c: 763 300-1650