This afternoon, we had a psalm sing at the Franciscan Manor. This is a nursing home a quarter of a mile from the church. We’ve held many psalm sings here, but the road to ministry at the Manor has been long, windy and sometimes even interrupted.
It was probably 8 years ago that retired pastor and then church member, Ken G. Smith reached out to the people at the Manor. Ken lived in the neighborhood and had been doing outreach for years. Around the time these inroads were being made, Ken moved away.
Our former pastor Steve Miller came in and picked up where Ken left off. He took an invitation to have services weekly at the manor and rolled with it. He and the associate pastors faithfully ministered week after week—even when it made the Lord’s Day exhausting.
As you remember, Pastor Miller’s ministry was cut short at First RPC because of a battle with ALS. Though ALS eventually took him home to his Lord and Savior, the ministry at the manor continued under our next pastor, Lucas Hanna, though primarily under the care of Associate Pastor Filbert.
We have met many neat people at them manor. One of them was a retired missionary from Africa and he took great interest when the Hannas accepted the Lord’s call to minister in South Sudan. Still services continued.
So many of our stories are punctuated with those words today. “Life was moving along swimmingly, then… COVID.” “I was an accomplished football player, then…COVID.”
Then COVID caused the shutdown of all ministry to the nursing home—a nursing home that was spared much of the horror of the pandemic until last fall when they lost a third of their residents to the dreaded disease. The doors were closed and rightfully so.
In the spring of 2021, as soon as he was allowed, Pastor Filbert (elected during the shutdown) got right back to the manor. His services were to be held on Thursdays and the room was limited in occupancy.
The first week back, they maxed out the room. And the week after that. A few months later, Pastor Filbert added a Tuesday Bible study.
Over the summer, he brought a group of young people from all over the nation to sing psalms for the retired folk.
Today, we repeated that endeavor with a few church members and a bunch of college students. A few at a time, we arrived on the front lawn with psalters and umbrellas in hand. The Lord was gracious and held back the rain for the hour that we sang WITH the residents—us on the lawn, them on the veranda.
It may have been a long and windy, sometimes interrupted, quarter-mile road to the Manor, but the Lord has made the path straight. We have been blessed by our ministry to them and hope to continue it for a long time to come.