Illinois church blesses senior adult community

Illinois church blesses senior adult community

by
Daniel Sperry for Nazarene News
| 15 May 2024
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Lunch and Laugh

When the Church of the Nazarene congregation in Manteno, Illinois, looked for ways to meet needs within its community, they started by simply looking outside. In less than one year, the church has started a program for senior adults that has brought much-needed service and support to the community seniors and revitalized the seniors within the congregation.

"If you stand out in our church parking lot and turn 360 degrees, 67 percent of the people you're looking at are age 55 and up," said MC Milestones Director Teddie Hill.

Four senior living communities are visible from the Manteno Church of the Nazarene building, and the town is home to two other assisted living facilities. Manteno Lead Pastor Ken Bushey issued a challenge to find a way to serve the people in those communities.

"Even though our church is very diverse age-wise, he saw that this was a need that was not being met," Hill said.

The MC Milestones team learned that one of the most significant issues facing the senior adults was the feeling of isolation and lonliness, so the church started offering events at its facility.

From free bunco game nights to a Christian comedy show, guest speakers, and singers, the events and accompanying meals have helped bring people into Manteno Nazarene. The church's latest "Lunch and Laugh" event was attended by 150 people, only a quarter of whom were from the church.

The events have led to connections with community members who opened the team's eyes to needs ranging from food insecurity to a lack of affordable medical equipment.

"We have a team of people that assist [seniors by connecting them] with the agencies we partner with," Hill said. "Or, if they fall through the cracks as some people do, we look and see what we can do."

In addition to the entertainment events, MC Milestones has also held educational talks on cybersecurity. Other outreaches include a group of senior care companions who visit homebound seniors and lead them in a Bible study.

MC Milestones is mostly self-funded with some help from donors. Recently, the team received a matching grant from the USA/Canada Region through the Blessing Our Community initiative.

While most of MC Milestones' efforts have been focused on the community, the church has intentionally sought to impact the senior adults who regularly attend Manteno Nazarene.

Hill noted how the church has evolved from what many members have grown up knowing it to be.

"This is not just for our church," Hill said. "But what has happened is that when you walk into our church, there is a revitalization with our seniors."

At every MC Milestones event, attendees can fill out an information card to receive birthday and anniversary cards and information about upcoming events. The card also has a space for prayer requests. Hill says that at their last event, ten people filled out the prayer request section, only one of whom is a regular attendee of Manteno Church of the Nazarene.

A group of retired ministers and spouses called the "Shepherds Sharing" prays over those cards. Community members often text and email Hill asking for prayer or help with odd jobs.

"Sometimes you gotta get down in the nitty gritty with people and show them Jesus," Hill said. "That's the bridge. You build the bridge from what we're doing to our community, and on that bridge is where we show them Jesus."

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