Holy Comforter is located in the middle of a very diverse neighborhood- with factories, supply houses, retail stores, restaurants, fast food facilities, apartments, and residential neighborhoods. We also enjoy a safe location for assisted living homes housing both mobile elders and senior citizens needing skilled nursing and memory centers for those suffering from dementia and related diseases.
Our Rector, Jimmy Abbott and I decided to offer these assisted living centers a prayer service either on Saturday or Sunday mornings. We applied for a grant to be able to develop something special as an intro to each location; it was awarded, and with help of an ad agency, we designed a poster that has been very effective.
I had worked with our Deacon Bob Horner who is at Trinity Episcopal Church in The Woodlands at one of his homes, “The Forum” so I had some experience in how I wanted to approach each of our candidates. Bob saw the need to touch each resident, and their reaction was self-evident. Some had no touch from anyone, but a nurse or an aide at bath time.
Our poster won immediate acceptance at the Broadmoor at Creekside in Spring, TX. They have a beautiful chapel, and we were able to find volunteers to man each service at 10:30 AM on Sunday morning. This means they would give up church on the Sunday’s they volunteered. We worried if this Sunday commitment could be sustained. I decided to spell them once a month, and include communion for the residents.
Like all concerns, when you are doing the Lord’s work, it was soon melted away by the enthusiasm of the volunteers. We made service bulletins in big bold print so the sight impaired could participate with the service. We have a volunteer pianist who plays the old church hymns and the residents love to sing. They know every word! The volunteers preach and share the word by reading the old and new testament, and reading the Gospel for that week according to the “Revised Common Lectionary”.
We just celebrated four years of service at The Broadmoor. The original volunteer leader John VanCamp is a candidate for the Deaconate at IONA School of Ministry serving our diocese. His replacement, Jessica Lyn Jones, has transitioned fabulously and the numbers attending have gone up.
We took this template and added two Brookdale assisted living facilities near FM 1960 in Spring, and a memory unit at Spring Village. We now have over 20 volunteers involved weekly in this service.
Those who volunteer during this service, are just as enriched as those attending: “I get more out of this mission than the patients do; I just love these people; I am so blessed to be able to participate in this ministry; I now know what Jesus meant when he said, “feed my sheep”.
We will soon start a new ministry at North Houston Rehab Center Hospital memory unit in North Houston and at New Haven assisted living in Spring. Our normal Saturday and Sunday attendance is about 75, with families of patients attending as their church instead of their church of choice; we also see Catholics, Lutherans, Baptists, and Jews attending our surveces.
10,000 seniors a day are turning 65, so we don’t see this ministry declining.
The Rev. Bob Lowry is a deacon at Holy Comforter Episcopal Church in Spring, TX and is a 2012 graduate of The Iona School of Ministry. He is married and works part time for Heart to Heart Hospice as their Bereavement Coordinator. More information about the services at The Broadmoor can be found here.