The Richmond-Melbourne pastoral charge may have only 20 people at its weekly worship, but its new ministry is reaching hundreds of seniors in the community.
Located in Quebec’s Eastern Townships, the community of faith has been without a minister since 2013. Licensed lay worship leaders perform services at the church, but until recently, there was no one to do pastoral care visits with aging members. The local Anglican, Presbyterian and Roman Catholic churches are in similar situations.
With $35,000 in grants from Quebec Presbytery and General Council, the community of faith hired Rev. Wayne Beamer on a half-time basis. Since October, he’s been visiting seniors in their homes and at nearby seniors’ residences — both United Church people and those from other denominations.
Beamer says he chats with people, visits those who are near death and even meets one group for a regular game of billiards. With positive reviews from seniors and their families, the pastoral charge has already applied for another year of funding for the position.
Beamer says it’s also good for the church. While shrinking congregations often focus inward from a “natural survival instinct,” he says, Richmond-Melbourne has “an outward-looking world view. They have turned their love outward, and that is why they are thriving.”
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