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Field Report:  Signs that Parish Life is Developing at Southbrook Care Center in Springfield

Field Report: Signs that Parish Life is Developing at Southbrook Care Center in Springfield

This encouraging report is from Bradley Winsler after a Sunday service a few weeks ago.  Bradley is a Parish Lay Reader, who has been a key leader and man on the ground (along with James Chasteen and Tammie Winsler) at Southbrook Care Center in Springfield, Ohio:              I was really touched yesterday.  Anna, probably our oldest resident, was taken back to her room by James (I normally take her back and anoint her).  So I went back to visit her and pray with her.  When she saw me she lit up and said, “I thought you weren’t here and I thought ‘Where is my pastor?’” I had never been considered a pastor by a resident…” Research, including my Master’s work, indicates that in the unique culture found in the nursing home environment, a relationship with a specific pastor is considered by 87% of residents to be either important or highly important components of parish life.  Our ministry strategy includes having a leader dedicated to each specific congregation and so even though we have mission efforts ongoing in multiple facilities, we have one person in each who serves as the day-to-day “champion” for each specific site.  I oversee all of these leaders and I report to our Bishops and our Board, and of course, we all answer to Christ. That Anna was happy to see Bradley, a pastoral figure in the facility, may be an indication of progress toward our goal of robust and holistic parish life.  Also, of course, it is great that Anna feels loved! For the widows, Chris +



Right place at the right time

Sometimes God lets us see what He is doing in special ways.  Here’s a little glimpse of fruit springing forth from a new non-traditional parish beginning to form in a nursing home.  I hope it encourages you as much as it encourages us at St. Lazarus Mission. For almost three months our mission team has been working in Southbrook Care Center.  We are experiencing many things together for the first time there.  This past Sunday we experienced, together, for the first time, the death of a beloved parishioner.  At the beginning of our afternoon Communion Service, a man came in and announced that his mother had just passed away.  This resident, Beatrice, regularly attended, received Communion, and was a friend to many residents at the service.  Tears began to flow, Fr. Chris went with the grieving son to comfort him, and the service resumed.  At the conclusion of the service, we sang “Amazing Grace.”  And it was then that we got a peek through the window of heaven. While the congregation was singing, some of Beatrice’s family members came into the room and stood as though in awe in the back of the room.  The anthem was beautiful, and in a sense, one could say it was angelic — it was sung with such humility, purpose, and strength.   Many of us were deeply touched.  I cannot speak for everyone, but I myself was keenly aware of the presence of the Lord and was greatly comforted. Here’s what we saw through that window:   The church is alive in Southbrook Care Center!   In their functioning as a church, the residents, the least of the least, were able to minister to those around them with the healing comfort of Jesus Christ.  This was not a case of “outsiders” bringing in comfort…this was the residents, those from…

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Meet Our Leaders

This summer has been very exciting for St. Lazarus Mission.  We added communion services in two more nursing care facilities!  In June we began weekly communion services in Southbrook Care Center in Springfield, Ohio.  And on Aug.14th, we began a monthly communion service in Grafton Oaks Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Dayton, Ohio.  This is a milestone for St. Lazarus Mission.  On Aug. 14th, we were able to provide worship and communion to 101 precious souls in one afternoon!  God is good! Fr. Chris and I didn’t do this by ourselves.  Far from it!  God called a broad team to carry out the mission.  We are grateful for our many volunteers, our Board of Directors, our financial and prayer supporters, and our faithful leaders.   Some of you may not know our leaders who serve at our newest locations.  Let me introduce them to you! At Southbrook Care Center, we are privileged to have Deacon Postulant, Bradley Winsler, and his wife, Tammie.  Bradley and Tammie are members of Christ the King Anglican Church in Dayton, Ohio.  Bradley is also a seminarian working on his MA at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary.  This dynamic husband and wife team dived head-first into nursing home ministry nearly two years ago at Livingston Care Center.  It soon became apparent that God has big plans for them.  Their faithfulness is an inspiration, and their loving care makes them especially cherished by the residents.   At Grafton Oaks Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, we have Joseph McNamara and his wife Deepika.  Joseph and Deepika are also active members of Christ the King Anglican Church.   Joseph has been a faithful servant at Livingston Care Center and a local group home for almost ten years.   He took the initiative to extend his important and fruitful ministry from the group home…

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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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