SHAMOKIN - A new church service designed to accommodate those with disabilities will begin Thursday at a city church.

The first service presented by God's Choice Ministries will be held at 5 p.m. April 24 at the Shamokin Christian and Missionary Alliance Church, Second and Arch streets.

Administrator Shari Turner learned about the program four years ago, as she searched for a ministry like this to help with her son, Jacob, 11, who is autistic.

"When I learned about God's Choice, I just knew it was a perfect fit and the ministry that God has brought to me to be a part of," Turner said.

God's Choice Ministries is designed to help bring church services and Bible study to those with disabilities, whether it be physical or developmental.

"I've heard stories about families who have been asked to do something about their autistic daughter because she was disrupting the service," Turner said. "God's Choice will not do that."

To help keep participants calm, Turner showed several items that will be used at the special services, everything from Play-Doh to stress balls, weighted lap pads and exercise balls.

"We use them during the services and we've seen that once the people are engaged, they want to volunteer and help out during our time here," Turner said.

"At Christian and Missionary Alliance Church, we are always looking for ways to minister to all people," said church pastor Sam Bellavia. "We found there is a real need for this type of service in our area, and its great to find Shari and partner with her to make this happen."

God's Choice will start every session with a meal, following by music ministry, Bible study and activities, and everyone is welcome. Families that attended will be expected to participate.

"This is not a drop-off zone," Turner said. "We encourage caretakers and family members to worship together, and we welcome everyone, from those with physical disabilities, to those with autism, Down's Syndrome and Tourette's. Everyone is welcome."

Turner thanked Kidswork Therapy Center, in Lewisburg, The Sewing Room in Bloomsburg, Matthews Spring Water, Wise Potato Chips, Giant and Weis Markets, Wendy's Restaurants and Cook's Meats for their help in getting the program off the ground.

"We hope that we are starting something great here that can reach the whole world," Turner said.

For more information, call the church at 570-644-1718 or email Turner at