Volunteers from the Broome County Council of Churches are bringing the word to older people who are no longer able to get out and hear it on their own.

Approximately 22 volunteers conduct worship services at eight facilities throughout the area, mostly nursing homes, as part of the council’s senior living ministry. About half are ordained clergy, while the other half are lay ministers — people who are not ordained but perform the same function, said Sue Spencer, director of the Faith in Action program for the council, who oversees the senior living ministry.

They conduct brief worship services that include the singing of hymns, preaching a sermon and reading the Bible for those who live in nursing homes and other facilities, Spencer said.

“Since mobility is often an issue for many of these residents, this enables them to continue to practice something that was probably a constant in their lives — something very dear to their hearts,” Spencer said. “It keeps them spiritually as well as socially connected.”

Many of the residents used to be active members of their congregations but can no longer leave the facility they live in to attend church, said Rev. Joseph Sellepack, executive director of the Broome County Council of Churches.

“Senior ministry gives us the opportunity to remember them and to remind seniors living in these homes that they are loved by God,” he said. “When we reach out to those who are shut in or in a nursing home, we help the body of Christ to be more whole.”

In place for at least 40 years, the senior living ministry is one of the oldest programs run by the council, which is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year, Sellepack said.

On a recent Sunday afternoon, 15 residents of Good Shepherd Fairview Home on Binghamton’s East Side gathered for a service led by Rev. Carol Leach, of Port Crane. They sang hymns including “In the Garden,” “Blessed Be the Tie That Binds” and “Were You There.”

An 11-year volunteer minister, Leach read aloud some passages from the Bible and then preached about turning to God in times of trouble. A widow, she recalled taking a walk through Chenango Valley State Park on a dreary day shortly after her husband died. She was feeling down but then recalled a Bible passage about how people can rise above their difficulties by “hoping in the Lord.”

“Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength,” she said. “Do you hope in the Lord?”

A member of Calvary Love’s Assembly of God Church in Johnson City, Leach got involved in the ministry because of her lifelong affection for senior citizens. She is a senior citizen who will turn 77 in November but has no plans to give up her volunteer work for the senior ministry.

“It just lifts me up,” she said. “As long as the Lord gives me the capabilities and strength to do it, I would like to continue.”

For more information

Contact the Broome County Council of Churches at (607) 724-9130 or on the Web at broomecouncil.net

The council is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year. The council provides several programs to help people who are hungry, homeless, elderly, young, disabled and imprisoned.

To see the full article, go to:  http://www.pressconnects.com/story/news/connections/faith/2016/09/19/ministry-brings-worship-services-senior-citizens/90699394/


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