Retirement Home Ministry Gathers Momentum
Just a year ago, our Together magazine featured a story about a fledgling Christian work in a retirement home in Bristol. Here, the project’s co-ordinator, Pauline Barnett, shares news of its growth, and talks about her hopes for similar ministries across the UK to thrive.
What started out four years ago as a Sunday get-together to encourage a few people in their Christian faith has been steadily gathering momentum. But I’ve been particularly heartened by its growing reach over the past year.
Not only do we now have more residents of the retirement home joining in with our regular Sunday services, but we’ve been bowled over by the willingness of the home’s management and staff to facilitate even more special times together.
It really does feel as though God is at work in this small community. Many of the home’s residents find it difficult, if not impossible, to get out and about, and a good number are from Christian backgrounds. This has meant that an additional weekly meeting – a discussion session on Thursday mornings – has been met with enthusiasm.
The group normally starts with a focus on verses 24-25 from Hebrews 10:
“Let us be concerned for one another, to help one another to show love and to do good. Let us not give up the habit of meeting together, as some are doing, instead let us encourage one another all the more, since you see that the Day of the Lord is coming nearer.”
It’s a joy to see such a mixed group of people, all at different stages of their faith journey, coming together in this way, and it’s clear that God is speaking to some who have not been used to Christian worship.
Bible verses printed in large type are often given out, and residents sometimes take these back to their rooms and show them to other residents along with staff and families.
Our group was recently visited by a member of the Gideons, who spoke about Revelation 3:20. He gave pictures of ‘The Light of the World’ to everyone present.
We have felt blessed by the support of the home’s kind and helpful manager, who sees the get-togethers as a positive contribution to the residents’ wellbeing. She recently told me: “The ladies and gentlemen love the fortnightly Sunday services, and receive great comfort and joy from being able to discuss issues through readings and thoughts each Thursday.”
Staff at the home are preparing gift packs to give to bereaved families, and these packs include Thoughts on Life to Come booklets aimed at helping relatives to think through life beyond death.
For the year ahead, we’ve been promised greater participation from local church ministers and members of their congregations. This is sure to be a great boost.
But best of all is that I’ve been hearing of other similar groups running, or being planned, in other retirement homes in various locations across the country. I’ve heard very uplifting stories about the impact that this type of ministry is having.
With an ageing population in the UK, it’s vital that we continue to work hard to engage more with older people. Please join me in thanking God for existing ministries in residential, nursing and care homes, and in praying for this work to thrive. To God be the Glory!