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Evangelism in nursing home

Evangelism in nursing home

Religion News Service relates how one church evangelizes at nursing homes:

Rhonda Rowe and her team gathered around a diagram of the nursing

home’s floor plan and determined how to split up to avoid praying with

anyone twice.

Rowe made her way to a room where a 93-year-old woman lay in her bed

while her 87-year-old roommate sat in a wheelchair. Rowe knelt between

them and went through her “Nursing Home Gospel Soul-Winning Script.” “Fill me with your Holy Spirit and fire of God,” the 93-year-old repeated. “I’m on my way to heaven. I have Jesus in my heart.” Rowe was soon off to the next room, but before she left, acknowledged that she might never see them again on earth. “I’ll see you girls in

heaven!” she chirped.

Welcome to the world of nursing home evangelism, where teams of lay

evangelists target senior citizens for one last chance in this life

for glory in the next.



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Rod Gillis

Hospital visiting was a regular feature of my parish ministry for thirty-five years, something I learned the importance of as a young curate. Checked my parish list against Anglicans admissions each week no matter what else went on in the parish, and it was not unusual to be there several times a week or more if someone was in crisis. Likewise with nursing homes within the parish bounds, regular home communions to residents, a monthly Anglican Eucharist on the weekly rotation shared by other denominations, on call for emergencies, served on the pastoral care committee of one for over a decade. Many of my colleagues, Anglican or otherwise do likewise.

One interesting thing however is how ethical standards play into institutional ministry. We had one of the breakaway “traditional” Anglican groups visiting the nursing home and hospital, except they had no residents/patients of their own they were responsible for, but hit on those who were members of the Anglican Church of Canada, and for some residents because of their situation, it was not clear this church was not their own. Finally, our bishop had to write to nursing home administrators or pastoral care departments outlining the issues.

The role of religious ministry in institutions is something accrediting agencies, if the home is accredited, can look at.

Mary Anne Chesarek

I worked as an RN in a nursing home many years ago and was pleased to know that one particular denomination was visiting the clients every week. They had a short service and sang old familiar hymns. But, they were also visiting each client and asking if he or she was saved, and telling them they were going to hell if they were not. Distasteful, yes, but they were the only religious visitors these folks saw.

Paul Woodrum

While this type of Christianity is not my style and lacks Episcopal good taste in all matters, I do wonder if part of our abhorrence is guilt at how little we visit the sick, the shut-in, the elderly, the imprisoned, the poor, etc.

While confined in a major NY hospital for over a week a couple years ago, I did appreciate the chaplains who came to visit, especially a Jewish seminarian doing clinical pastoral training. However, getting an Episcopal priest to bring communion was like pulling teeth and this was in Manhattan where Episcopal churches are not lacking. Finally a friend did arrange for one of the clergy from his parish of St. Luke in the Fields to visit for which I remain grateful.

As for retirement homes, once parishioners no longer fill pew nor purse, we tend to forget and neglect them.

Rod Gillis

“The last bus stop before eternity”, the guy ought to try reading Erickson’s eight stages. Many residents in senior homes are supportive of one another’s religious traditions, attend the services of one another’s churches and so forth.

From the full article,

“We have no response to those who are critics other than obeying Jesus and the Great Commission to preach the gospel regardless of the physical condition of the hearer,” he said. “Eternity will answer their questions!”

This is an ethical quagmire.


What irresponsible nursing homes are letting this sick parody of the GOOD News in? It is with zeal for the actual GOSPEL that I would give anyone spewing the “Nursing Home Gospel Soul-Winning Script” the ol’ heave-ho: Let the sliding door hit ya where the good Lord split ya!

JC Fisher

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