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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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Celebration Service wraps up Louisville 2012

Mon, 13 Aug 2012 - 4:20 PM CST

Celebration Service 2012
Steve Pulis, student outreach director, and Chet Caudill, student missions director, announce presentations during the Celebration Service held Friday in Louisville.

Approximately 13,000 students attended the National Youth Convention and the 50th National Fine Arts Festival in Louisville from August 6-10. Friday evening, after three and a half days of presentations, evaluations and callbacks, the week culminated with the Celebration Service.

"We saw some incredible student talent as they exalted Jesus through their gifts Friday night," says Rod Whitlock, student discipleship director.

Winners of the Assemblies of God National Award of Merit, Award of Excellence and Honorable Mention trophies in 96 Fine Arts and Kappa Tau categories were announced and many of the students were able to deliver their presentations on the KFC Yum! Center stage Friday night.

Excitement and anticipation naturally filled the air as students learned if they had placed in the top three or even won the category — and would be performing center stage. Yet, despite the months of hard work and drive for excellence, those chosen as Award of Merit winners Friday evening, presented with humbleness and grace.

Rhea Williams from Valley Christian Center in Dublin, California, received Award of Merit in Piano Solo and was the first to perform on stage.

When asked how students can develop their ministry gifts, Williams says, "Honestly, this is not really a performance for anybody. I always think of this as only worship. We're only worshiping our God. In everything you do, whether it's playing an instrument, whether it's singing, whether it's speaking, whether it's dancing, always do it in excellence because our God is such an amazing God. He will be so pleased if you do it in excellence."

Fifteen-year-old Yanelly Terrazas, the Vocal Solo, Spanish Female Award of Merit recipient from Living Water Christian Center in El Paso, Texas, says "[Fine Arts] means a lot to me. God has blessed me with so many blessings because when I was little the doctor told me, ‘this girl is not going to be able to sing because she cannot reach notes.' I had asthma and with asthma you cannot do that. When I sang to him he was like, ‘Wow, wow, this girl can sing.' I started praying. I went through some stuff and God really blessed me. I don't have asthma anymore. It has been seven years since God cured me. I'm able to sing up here and present Fine Arts to the church and people of God."

Student presentations worshipped God and their words spoke to their peers. After delivering his award-winning sermon, Austin Beshuk from First Assembly of God in Jefferson City, Missouri, told the audience why he loves Fine Arts.

"I first did Fine Arts when I saw two people from my youth group do Fine Arts and come back on fire for God, it was amazing and I wanted that," he says. "So I came to Fine Arts and I learned to love God and it was awesome way to serve Him and worship Him." Beshuk is the 2012 Award of Merit recipient for Short Sermon Senior.

Two students received special honors in addition to winning a National Award of Merit in their categories. Lucas Menzies from Eden Prairie (Minnesota) Assembly of God won the National Award of Merit in Songwriting. He also received a  scholarship to sarahkellymusicschool.com and a fully produced demo. Alex Pylypiv from Bethel Temple in Parma, Ohio, won the National Award of Merit in Guitar Solo as well as a custom-made guitar from Noel Rosa and New Sound Acoustics.

For a full list of the National Fine Arts Festival results including the Top 10 in each category, click here.

Authors: Jennifer Taylor

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