Meet the Director!
In the early 70’s Ms. Mattie Lackey of Caroleen was working at the Avondale Mill, which is now torn down . She had a young friend who was just seven years old and was in grade school; the boy was very thin, his legs were little, but he had large feet, and his head was slim and long . One day she overheard a lady say that the boy was made fun of in school.This upset Mattie, so she was very excited when he was moved to a special class then a thought crossed her mind; if the boy was made fun of in school then most likely he would be made fun of in church . Then she had the idea, an unheard of idea, a church for mentally and physically handicapped people . Mattie shared her idea with several people, including her assistant cub scout leader, Jewel Crawford;who then shared the idea with her husband, Thomas Crawford Sr . The next day her Mr. Crawford was in a meeting to discuss the goals of their church for the year, one of the goals was to do something for the retarded, that was the terminology then, Mr. Crawford then shared Mattie’s idea at the annual Methodist men meeting. Several days later Mattie was contacted by a Methodist minister,named Harry Sellars, who was in the meeting where the idea had been voiced; soon after that, Mattie, Ingrid Lane, Rev. Harry Sellars, Rev. Clay Morgan and Thomas Crawford Sr. and his wife, met to plan the first service for the The Church of the Exceptional, which took place on May 7th of 1974 . The Church of the Exceptional is non - denominational and interracial church, which was very unusual at the time . The Church of the Exceptional started with three members, they now have more that forty - two attending . The Church of the Exceptional was awarded the National Caring Church Award by the Christian Council on Persons with Disabilities and has been on national and local television three times . They receive no state or federal funds . The Church of the Exceptional’s motto is “Love never fails” and that could not ever be more true . Mattie has been with the church from the very beginning and had the initial God-given inspiration for the church is paid a very modest salary. Mattie retains the same humbleness and meekness that she had years ago when working in that textile plant she said: "Here I am Lord, send me.”