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Memory Lane
Van Buren First Assembly of God's Memory Lane Alzheimer's Special Care Unit is considered the finest Alzheimer's facility in Arkansas and one of the best in the nation.

Many Assemblies of God churches care for the needy through food pantries, clothing banks, holiday meals and similar compassion ministries. But Van Buren (Arkansas) First Assembly of God may be the very first AG church to not only offer a retirement center for seniors, but now a fully-staffed care unit for individuals who have Alzheimer's or dementia.

The new $5 million, 34,000 square-foot Memory Lane Alzheimer's Special Care Unit, dedicated on November 13, was recently completed through the donation of a gift of $5 million given anonymously last November. The care unit is an addition to the already existing 60,000-square-foot Legacy Heights Retirement Center.

Senior Pastor Bobby Johnson, who has been ministering at the 1,100-member church for the past 34 years, says that in 2007 the church opened the Legacy Heights Retirement Center, offering 55 units for retirees.

Having converted a wing of the center into an Alzheimer's care unit in 2009, Johnson says at first the church struggled as the economy crash at that time took its toll. "But three years ago, a foundation offered us a $1 million grant, if we could match it," Johnson says. "We matched almost all of it and that helped us recover."

Memory Lane pictures
Much of the decor in Memory Lanes is designed to help those with Alzheimer's use their memories.

Apparently liking what Johnson and Van Buren First Assembly were doing, the same foundation came back to them this past November and offered the grant money to build a state-of-the-art Alzheimer's care facility.

AG General Treasurer Doug Clay spoke at the dedication of the new unit. "Thank you for being a wonderful and biblical example of excellence in ministry to our seniors," Clay said. "There is nothing quite like this . . . praise the Lord!"

When the new facility, which is expected to open by mid-December, is at capacity (40 patients), it will have a staff of 50 to 60 people, including nurses and other professional staff who will provide 24-hour care in private rooms. The facility is also licensed by the state.

"Memory Lane is divided into two mirroring pods of 16,000-square-feet each," Johnson says. "They each have 20 rooms and include a dining room, activities room, a beauty salon, whirlpool, an outdoor walking track within the confines of each pod, and between the pods is a safe room for residents of Legacy Heights and Memory Lane."

Clay observed that one out of eight Americans are now age 65 or older, with more than 5,500 Americans turning 65 every day. "As the percentage of older people in the population increases, problems, attitudes, responsibilities, and care related to the aging become matters of increasing concern," Clay said.

Pastor Bobby Johnson
Pastor Bobby Johnson

Johnson agrees with Clay's assessment. "Statistics say 1 out of 2 people who are 85 will contract this disease — a disease where there are no survivors."

According to what state officials have already communicated to Johnson, the new Alzheimer's facility is the best in the state and is one of the best in the nation.

"The difference is, this facility was built strictly for Alzheimer's patients — it's not an older building converted to house Alzheimer's patients," Johnson explains. "For example, our large outdoor walking track is secure, pictures and decorations are from the 1930s, 40s and 50s, which will help with memory, and each patient's door will have pictures of their family members on it."

What's more, Johnson says, those residents living at Legacy Heights and the patients soon to be a part of Memory Lane will continue to have the opportunities to hear the gospel message, through visitation of retired AG ministers and live-streaming of all church services.

And perhaps Clay summed the church's efforts up best when he said during the dedication, "Thank you for addressing this concern with care, quality and excellence."

For more information about Legacy Heights or Memory Lane, contact Van Buren First AG at info@vbfirst.com.

 

 


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This week in AG history -- April 24, 1960

Mon, 23 Apr 2012 - 1:33 PM CST

Charlie Lee (1924-2003), a talented young Navajo artist, won widespread recognition and numerous awards for his paintings and sketches of life on the reservation. Despite his success, Lee felt dissatisfied with his life. In the fall of 1947, an Apache school friend invited him to visit an Assemblies of God church at the San Carlos Reservation in Arizona, where he found new life and accepted Christ on New Year's Day, 1948.
 
Feeling called to the ministry, Lee enrolled at Central Bible Institute (now Central Bible College). He graduated in 1951 and traveled extensively as an evangelist among Native Americans. In 1953, Lee and his wife, Coralie, returned to his home state of New Mexico and pioneered Mesa View Assembly of God in Shiprock. He became one of the best-known Native American pastors within the Assemblies of God. His congregation in Shiprock, in 1976, became the first Native American church on a federally recognized reservation to make the transition from being a supported mission to a fully indigenous, self-supporting, General Council affiliated church.
 
Lee's testimony was published in the April 24, 1960, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.
 
Read "Navajo Artist Builds a Church for His People," by Ruth Lyon, on pages 8 and 9 of the April 24, 1960, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

* "Africa As I Saw It," by C. C. Crace

* "Busy Mother Ministers to the Blind," by Maxine Strobridge

* "Has God Forgotten?" by Meyer and Alice Tan-Ditter

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.
 
Charlie Lee's widow, Coralie, recently published her account of their inspiring lives, "And God Was There: A Biography of Charles and Coralie Lee." Click here to read a review of the book.

Pentecostal Evangel archived editions courtesy of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center. For current editions of the Evangel, click here.

Authors: Darrin Rodgers

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