By Jean Miller
In order to give true insight to this spirit of God ministry, let me share how it all began.
Prior to the opening of The Waterford Community in Mesquite, lay speakers from New Covenant UMC and New World UMC spoke to management and asked permission to hold a Sunday worship service. Permission was granted and at 10:45 a.m. the first Sunday in October 1999, three lay speakers held the first service in the rotunda of the building on the second floor. Three residents were in attendance and each Sunday thereafter attendance grew. So from three charter members it has now grown 20 to 30 in attendance each morning.
The services grew so quickly that they were moved to a larger room and then again to an even larger room that holds up to 40 in worship.
The chapel was decorated with metal crosses made by one of the residents’ friends. Other donations of pictures and flower arrangements were made to the chapel. A generous gift of an altar, Bible stand, Bible, candles, and pulpit were made by a NCUMC member. The chapel was complete even with an electric keyboard/organ purchased by donations and offerings from The Waterford residents.
It was agreed from the beginning that the morning worship would include a full service, excluding a children’s message. Bulletins are printed weekly and hymns chosen specific to the desires of the group. Residents share their gifts and talents as well. In the beginning, residents asked the worship team to include an offering so they could participate in giving. Funds from these offerings provide bulletins, new hymnals, Bibles, and supplies for the worship services. A designated fund was set up and through donations padded armchairs were purchased for the chapel.
Holy Communion is celebrated on the first Sunday of each month. The New Covenant pastor consecrates the elements prior to being taken to The Waterford. If requested, communion can be provided to the residents in their apartment.
What a joy the lay speakers receive from the residents that attend each Sunday. Each of us contributes: Sharon Smith, who leads music and shares in giving messages; John Elfers, whose devotion and faithfulness not to mention talent in playing the organ; Bill Gilbert who on fifth Sundays presents messages. Others who present messages include Mark Thompson, Denny Leeds, and myself. Each of us remark continuously that we receive the greatest blessings by being with all of the senior residents who attend regularly.
Two of the charter members, Mr. and Mrs. Elvin Kilpatrick, became the official ushers; handing out the bulletins and registering each person in attendance. Following the passing of Mr. Kilpatrick, his family donated a much-needed sound system.
Special occasions have been held in the beautiful chapel; four couples married and continued living and worshiping together at The Waterford. Our services have been honored to have retired Methodist ministers, Reverend Greenhaw and Reverend Scott and their wives, who lived there, worshiped with us. Many Sundays, they would lead us in prayer and even bring an occasional message. Many veterans are recognized regularly, one of whom is a highly decorated WWII officer, Full Colonel Lee James, who recently celebrated his 105th birthday and rarely misses a Sunday worship service. Holidays are celebrated with special gifts for those who attend as we don’t want any of our attendees to be forgotten on special days of the year.
The ministry at The Waterford has grown and has been successful for many reasons:
- God has been present from the initial planning.
- Special respect and understanding between the management of The Waterford and the lay speakers who lead services.
- God is always present during the services and in the chapel.
- God’s love is sent through the messages presented and hymns sung.
- There is deep affection between the lay speakers and the residents.
- Many have noted how these services have established and strengthened their bonds with God.
To sum up The Waterford Ministry; God’s love continues to bless all in our continued support of the needs of the aging residents. So, thanks to you all for your support, love and prayers as this ministry continues to thrive. In October 2019, we will celebrate with a special service for the 20th Anniversary of The Waterford Ministry.