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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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AG and COGIC Leaders Gather in Historic Meeting

Wed, 27 Nov 2013 - 1:51 AM CST

leadership
Leadership from the Assemblies of God and Church of God in Christ gather on the main steps of the AG national offices. COGIC Presiding Bishop Charles E. Blake, center front left; AG General Superintendent George O. Wood, center front right.

This week Assemblies of God executive leadership hosted the executive leadership of the Church of God in Christ (COGIC) at the AG national office in Springfield, Missouri. The historic meeting marks the first time the full leadership of these Pentecostal movements — two of the largest in the U.S. — have gathered specifically to dialogue together.

Dr. George O. Wood, general superintendent of the Assemblies of God, expressed his great pleasure in the COGIC acceptance of the invitation. He also warmly welcomed the executive leadership as well as local COGIC leaders and members to the Tuesday chapel service held at the national office each week. 

During the chapel service, Wood explained that the Assemblies of God and COGIC were children of the Azusa Street revival — citing that it was COGIC's Presiding Bishop C. H. Mason who personally attended the first General Council in 1914 and blessed the Assemblies of God as it was being formed. Wood reflected sorrowfully on the separation that occurred because of the racial culture at that time in America, when culture shaped the church into racial division rather than the Bible. The coming together of COGIC and AG leadership in a historic-time dialogue represents another step in the healing of a rift that occurred long ago.

Bishop Blake
COGIC Presiding Bishop Charles E. Blake Sr. speaking at the weekly AG chapel service.

Current COGIC Presiding Bishop Charles E. Blake Sr., who also pastors the 24,000-member West Angeles COGIC in Los Angeles, then addressed the chapel attendees. He shared a brief but passionate message based on Acts, encouraging listeners to follow Paul's example in thanking God during and after life's storms. To view Bishop Blake's full message, click here.

In addition to Bishop Blake, other top COGIC leadership who came from across the country for the meetings included:  First Assistant Presiding Bishop Philip A. Brooks, Second Assistant Presiding Bishop Jerry W. Macklin, Bishop J. Drew Sheard (general board member), Financial Secretary Frank Anthone White, General Secretary Joel Harley Lyles Jr., Missions President Carlis L. Moody, Chairman of Auxiliaries in Ministry Lindwood Dillard Jr., and Chief Operation Officer James W. Smith.

"This is a wonderful day," Wood said, prior to entering additional meetings with the COGIC leadership. "Meeting with our like-minded brothers from the Church of God in Christ is something we and the leadership of COGIC have longed to do for years, and now it has finally happened!"

For more information about the Church of God in Christ, see its website.

 

Authors: Dan Van Veen

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