Inclusive Ministries hosts benefit concert

KJ Hall

Lights lit the front of the Living Hope Baptist Church Chapel Friday night as performers took to the stage.

Vocalist and Inclusive Ministries member Ashley Renae opened for the Inclusive Ministries Benefit Concert. The Down Syndrome of South Central Kentucky Rocker Dance Team performed next.

The team captured the hearts of people in the chapel and danced to a broad array of songs, including “Beautiful” by Christina Aguilera.

Jordan Allen and the Bellwethers closed the show. They had a folklike sound and said that although they are not a Christian band, they are a band made up of Christians.

Members of Inclusive Ministries had been planning and preparing for the second annual benefit concert since the beginning of the spring semester. Megan Cole, Corbin junior, spearheaded the concert and worked hard to make it happen.

More than 125 people attended the Inclusive Ministries Benefit Concert, and they raised about $450 total through admission costs and donations, according to Louisville graduate student Cameron Levis.

All proceeds will go to Inclusive Ministries to help the organization better serve those with disabilities, recruit more student members and purchase supplies needed for Bible studies and events.

Levis said it was wonderful to see people come out and support the organization and what they do.

“This was a time for us to reflect on all God has done in our organization and what he’ll continue to do,” Levis said. “God has been very faithful in this organization … He is good.”

After growing up watching his mom provide programming for people with special needs, Levis learned not to recognize the differences in abilities that society usually magnifies.

Levis continued to gain a passion for this underserved community and knew he needed to pursue that passion further when he got to WKU. That’s when he began Inclusive Ministries.

“It started with about five people having meetings in a basement just a few years ago,” Lexington junior Devyn Layne said. “Now there are at least 65 members.”

Layne is the social media chairwoman for Inclusive Ministries and also attended the concert Friday.

Layne said she was excited to see so many people in attendance with an audience that ranged from students to parents and included community members with special needs.

“They [those affected by a disability] are just really beautiful people that are full of more joy than I could ever hope to have,” Layne said.

When people with disabilities graduate from high school, they face an awkward transition and are often ignored by society, she said. Inclusive Ministries provides an opportunity for them to get involved in campus life with their peers.

Levis, now the Special Populations director with Bowling Green Parks and Recreation, agreed and went on to talk about the driving force and overall mission of Inclusive Ministries.

The organization’s heartbeat, Levin said, is the passion God has placed on members’ hearts for people with disabilities. Its mission, he said, is to share the love of Christ with individuals who have physical or intellectual disabilities and to spread awareness for inclusion through service, volunteerism and programming.

Those who attended the concert were able to hear the heartbeat of Inclusive Ministries and left with a better understanding of its mission and purpose, Levis said.

“We want to show others why we have the passion for our mission that we do and hope those in attendance will pursue inclusion for disabilities,” he said.