Ministry makes families feel ‘Super’
The Rev. Cristin Hamman, associate pastor, started SuperKids after noticing more kids with autism who weren’t comfortable in a traditional ministry setting.
Tulsa has no shortage of churches. But families of children with special needs, particularly those diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders or similar conditions, have few options that specifically cater to their unique challenges.
RiverGate Church, a nondenominational congregation at 1439 E. 71st St., began its “SuperKids” ministry in January 2016. Nine to 10 preschool and elementary-aged children regularly attend the Sunday class while their parents attend the worship service.
In class, children can become superheroes for the hour by choosing from a selection of costumes. The room features a soothing palette with pops of color for those with visual impairments, as well as sensory-engaging activity centers. Each child is paired with a trained volunteer teacher with an extensive background of working with students with disabilities.
The Rev. Cristin Hamman, associate pastor, started SuperKids after noticing more kids with autism who weren’t comfortable in a traditional ministry setting. She has spent 15 years working to make church more inclusive to students with disabilities, while tearing down the stigma of being “different.”
Hamman, who has a degree in special education and early childhood education, says SuperKids is all about the kids having fun and learning to accept each other in a non-judgmental setting. “These kids needed something to call their own,” she says.
SuperKids continues to grow and add events outside of its Sunday class, such as a Sensitive Easter Bunny and a Sensitive Santa.