Just A Bunch of Little Old Ladies? Not!

  The final words a close friend living in a nursing home said to me before he died were, “I love you, Father Chris.”  He was a man who took his mission seriously.  Even on the day he died he wrote a letter to a Lawrence County Jail inmate to support the ministry of Fr. Franklin Sanders, Rector of Christ our Hope Anglican Church in Westpoint, TN.  This is what real men do.   Last week, also in the nursing home, I anointed four men with oil.  One of them is a really good friend.  He has a deep voice, and his eyes light up when, after every prayer time each week when I anoint him with oil, he smiles saying “Go Bucks!”  In his wheel chair, which he insists upon propelling with his own massive arms, he seems like he probably was a linebacker way back when.  When he rolled through the doorway he turned around and said in a loud voice, “I love you, Father Chris.” Three more men asked for me to pray for them that day and all three, without any timidity, told me they loved me — “I love you, Father Chris.”   My point for this post is not to tell you how loveable I must be.  Rather,  I write about these men who say, “I love you…” because they break a stereotype we might carry with us that people in nursing homes are unable to articulate their love for others.   They also break another stereotype that seems to have permeated our culture that tells us that nursing homes are filled with little old white ladies.  While there are mostly little old white ladies today, the reality is our demographics in nursing homes are shifting just as they are everywhere.  Before long, the…

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Matthew 25 Initiative Grant!

Share in our Joy and Mission St. Lazarus Mission in Dayton, Ohio has been awarded a dollar for dollar matching grant through the ACNA’s Matthew 25 Initiative! For St. Lazarus, a small organization with a big vision, this grant comes at a critical time.  As we are part of one another, we were encouraged by Bishop Morse to invite the whole diocese to partner with us to achieve the full amount of this grant.  Some have asked us to fill you in a bit more about the grant, about what we are doing, and what we hope to accomplish together.  What or Who is St. Lazarus Mission? St. Lazarus is a mission work, set apart by Bishop Daniel Morse, for the purpose of establishing non-traditional parishes in nursing care facilities.  Our charter is to seek, gather, and care for Christ’s scattered sheep living in nursing homes.  We enable, as much as possible, the full function of the people of God as a local expression of the Body of Christ in these places.  My wife, Carol, and I have been working in the nursing home mission field for 25 years.  Our vision is to teach other churches nationwide to join us in this work. St. Lazarus is not just a “nice” ministry.  We are not occasional visitors of “little old ladies.”  We are not merely providing church services.  What we are and do is different and much more substantial.  Our ministry uniquely adopts everyone in the nursing home — residents and families, staff and management – and we seek to become an integral part of the community we love.  As one senior manager at one nursing home we serve said, “You have become part of the facility.”  In this way we minister both to and with people, enabling the least of…

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The Widow’s Mite or the Widow’s Might in Christ?

This is a story from Carol Herman that captures much of what God has been doing at St. Lazarus Mission.   Just to be fair, I am warning you that this will be a long post about nursing home ministry. Share in our Joy. My husband and I love ministering to and with folks who live in nursing homes. It is our joy which is often accompanied with many sorrows. Today, however, was one of those days that brought us great encouragement and giant smiles. There is a lady at Livingston Care Center who, though asked repeatedly, would not come to our Sunday afternoon church service. I will call her “Janice” (not her real name.) For about a year, my husband asked her to come, but was always answered with a straightforward “No.” Then one day, Janice rolled her wheelchair to the doorway of the where the service was held and just hung back as an observer. We continued asking her to join us, but was given the familiar “No.” This went on for another year. Fast forward to about May of last year, my husband began a ministry of annointing with oil to any who asked. This somehow struck a chord in Janice, and she approached Fr. Chris for anointing and prayer. This pattern of coming in for prayer at the end of the service continued off and on for another year…until today. Hang in there, I told you this would be long. Another story, yet related. There is another lady at Livingston that has been with us since last spring. She and her son attend church with us every week. I will call her “Mavis” for our purposes. One Sunday, Mavis became unually animated during worship. She clapped her hands and moved her feet. In speaking with her…

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