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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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Allen appointed to lead LFTL; Greene steps down

Thu, 15 Nov 2012 - 8:29 AM CST

Rick Allen
Allen

Rick Allen, a nationally-appointed U.S. Assemblies of God missionary, has been appointed by the Executive Presbytery as the new national director of Light for the Lost effective January 1, 2013.

Allen is currently a national church consultant with Healthy Church Network and has played a significant role in the development of the Acts 2 Church model. Previously he served as the district church enrichment director of the Arkansas District Council in a mentoring ministry. He has also served as a senior pastor at churches in Arkansas and Tennessee as well as a youth pastor in Texas, Arkansas and Tennessee.

"Rick has a servant's heart coupled with a passion for reaching the lost," says Assistant General Superintendent Alton Garrison, who oversees AG Church Ministries. "I believe he will creatively and effectively guide Light for the Lost in continuing its powerful ministry around the world."

Allen will be succeeding Tom Greene, the national director for Light for the Lost and Men's Ministries for the past 8 years.

Greene, who previously served as the national Youth Ministries director for a total of 5 years (1997-98, 2001-05), has served with distinction, Garrison says.

"Tom brought his energy and expertise in guiding youth seamlessly into leading our Fellowship's men," Garrison states, "and his leadership of Light for the Lost has been tremendous. We pray the Lord provides even greater opportunities for Tom's gifted ministry in the future."

General Superintendent George O. Wood echoes Garrison's statement. "Tom has provided highly adept and passionate leadership to several ministry areas of the national offices," Wood says. "His clarity of vision, selfless sacrifices and skilled ministry are just a few of his remarkable leadership qualities. He will be missed."

"I am thoroughly excited for the opportunity to continue to blaze the trail for Light for the Lost," says Allen, who will retain his status as a U.S. missionary. "Tom Greene has given great vision and leadership to LFTL over the last eight years, and it is an honor to accept the torch from him. I look forward to partnering with national and district LFTL teams as we endeavor to reach the lost.

"I am praying and trusting God to give guidance and wisdom for the journey ahead of us," Allen continues. "I am grateful and blessed to join this amazing ministry of evangelism to reach people around the world and across your street with the gospel of Jesus Christ."

For more information on LFTL, click here. To learn more about National Men's Ministries, see men.ag.org.

Authors: Dan Van Veen

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