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Seniors' Spiritual Needs A Focus For Area Churches

May 16, 2011

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It's a typical Wednesday morning at Royal Manor Nursing Home in Hewitt. Amidst the hustle and bustle of a large facility teeming with workers and the elderly they serve, a few dozen people have set up their own sanctuary of sorts in the home's dining room. Surrounded by the sounds of kitchen work, nurses being paged, and people moving about, Pastor Jim Gray of First Baptist Woodway leads residents in hymns and a devotional.

Pastor Jim Gray leads the senior ministry at First Baptist Woodway, which features over 600 active seniors in varying stages of their lives. Churches fill many vital roles in serving the needs of the elderly in their communities, spiritual, social, and practical. Part pastor, part social worker, Jim Gray and other pastors like him seek to keep seniors active as the changes of aging visit.

And just because some people are homebound or unable to leave a nursing home doesn't mean they're not interested in being involved either. For many in a nursing home, the stress that comes with loss of ability and separation from home and independence is deepened by the spiritual separation from church and the familiar practices that were a part of their Sundays for decades.

So churches like First Baptist Woodway take the service from the church campus to the nursing homes themselves. Sitting in the service, it's hard to tell how engaged all of them are. Some are clearly singing and following along. Others seem to be there physically but not mentally. Whatever their level of participation, Pastor Gray enjoys serving the needs of his flock that is in many ways literally pinned-in due to their disabilities.

It's stories like these that energize Pastor Jim Gray and others who strive to meet the spiritual needs of the elderly in Central Texas, knowing that they're also meeting relational and emotional needs as well. When we continue this series tomorrow, we'll meet Mary Laney, whose life in the nursing home was revitalized by her involvement in First Woodway's services, and continue to look at outlets for seniors' spiritual needs in the Waco area. For KWBU News, I'm Derek Smith.

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