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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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Imagine conference challenges Chi Alpha staff to dream big

Mon, 14 Jan 2013 - 2:18 PM CST

Northwest University's Jim Heugel
Northwest University Provost Jim Heugel inspires Chi Alpha leaders to not let their dreams be limited, but to dream big.

More than 450 Chi Alpha Campus Missionaries from across the country gathered for a special one-day event in Fort Worth, Texas, on December 31 - following the third World Missions Summit - to begin the new year with a challenge of dreaming big and deep dreams for Chi Alpha.

The event, called Imagine, was based on Ephesians 3:20-21. It included special speakers, breakouts, worship, prayer and Texas-style food and fellowship. This was the third time and largest attendance ever for a one-day Chi Alpha staff conference. 

The conference began with brunch and a video spoof of the popular "Gangnam Style" song, dubbed, "We got XA Style." World Missions Summit 3 Co-Director E. Scott Martin enthusiastically reflected on the summit and the 1,148 students who responded to "give a year [to missions] and pray about a lifetime."

Chi Alpha National Director Dennis Gaylor challenged campus leaders to dream big and deep dreams together, opening with Ephesians 3:20-21, which says, "Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen."

"We are essentially poised for greatness or decline depending on how we move forward in God's dreams for us," Gaylor said, and compared the human life stages to organizational development.

As a vibrant and growing organization, Gaylor said Chi Alpha must find the delicate balance between spiritual vitality and effective organization. Gaylor challenged the campus staff to commit themselves to God's Word, prayer and to live consecrated lives in the dream God has for Chi Alpha's future. He then announced XAPray, a call to weekly prayer on campus for Chi Alpha nationwide.

Guest speaker, Northwest University Provost Jim Heugel, also used the Imagine theme to outline what Chi Alpha can be.

"It was good listening . . . about dreaming what Chi Alpha can be and look forward to the potential," Clemson University Senior Campus Pastor Joe Holloway said.

Sara Good, a staff member from Idaho State University, expressed, "It is exciting to see where we've come and the impact of the groups."

Imagine conference
Texas-style fun, food, fellowship and outfits concluded the Imagine event.

During the event, eight different breakout sessions were offered to leaders to develop and hone their skills, with the activities concluding with a Texas-style BBQ and other fun activities.

Five campus missionaries were also recognized at the conference, receiving the Missionary Service Award for 30 years of campus ministry service: Eric Treuil of University of Louisiana-Lafayette, Bob Elfers of Eastern Washington University, Michael Mowry of Central Washington University, Resource Director Mike Olejarz and Support Raising Specialist Trainer Gregg Glutting.

For more information on Chi Alpha Campus Ministries, see its website.

 

Authors: Melanie Lynch

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