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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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Wacker collection donated to FPHC

Wed, 17 Oct 2012 - 11:47 AM CST

Dr. Grant Wacker, one of the most prominent historians of American religion, has deposited his Pentecostal research collection at the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center, which is located in the Assemblies of God national offices in Springfield, Missouri. The Grant Wacker Collection was dedicated in a special service held on Thursday, October 11, 2012, at Evangel University, also in Springfield.

Dr. Grant Wacker
Wacker

Wacker, an Assemblies of God pastor's son, was raised in Springfield. He is the grandson of Ralph Riggs, who served as general superintendent from 1953 to 1959. Wacker earned his Ph.D. at Harvard University and has taught American religious history at Duke University Divinity School since 1992.

Pentecostal history has been one of Wacker's primary research interests, and his 2001 book, Heaven Below: Early Pentecostals and American Culture, has become a standard text on the subject. Wacker is now writing a book entitled Billy Graham and the Shaping of Modern America, under contract with Harvard University Press, but retains interest in developments in Pentecostal histo­ry.

When Wacker began his Pentecostal historical research in 1979, he made a visit to the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center (then known as the Assemblies of God Archives). He struck up a friendship with the center's director, Wayne Warner, which has persisted to this day. The staff of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center provided camaraderie and scholarly assistance to Wacker over the decades. This ongoing relationship, along with his "confidence in the professionalism of the archives handling of donated materials," as he phrased it, led Wacker to place his collection at the archives, which he first visited 33 years earlier.

Evangel University President Robert Spence formally dedicated the collection in Thursday's ceremony, which was held in Riggs Hall, named in honor of Wacker's grandfather. Spence noted, "There are few scholars who have left a greater mark on the landscape of American religious history than Dr. Wacker." Wacker and the former and current directors of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center, Wayne Warner and Darrin Rodgers, also participated in the ceremony.
 
The Grant Wacker Collection consists of 13.75 linear feet of files plus numerous books, which together constitute the raw materials from which he crafted his scholarly assessments of the Pentecostal movement. In addressing Wacker, Rodgers stated, "I am humbled that you have entrusted a significant portion of your life's work to the Heritage Center. Because of this donation, future generations will continue to have access to the materials which formed the basis for your scholarship."

Wacker praised the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center for its significant role in making Pentecostal historical scholarship possible: "The work that historians do is utterly dependent upon the work of archivists. They build the foundation for historians by collecting and cataloging materials and interviewing people. This is what makes interpretation possible."
 
The Grant Wacker Collection takes its place alongside other notable collections, including the sermon notes of evangelist Smith Wigglesworth, the original Azusa Street newspapers, and the personal files of scholars and church leaders such as Gary McGee, William Menzies and Church of God in Christ Bishop J.O. Patterson Sr.

The Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center is the largest Pentecostal archives and research center in the world, featuring research materials spanning the chronological, denominational, linguistic and national divides. The center is attracting increasing numbers of students and researchers to Springfield and also makes its collections accessible through its research website.

Authors: AG News

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