A breakfast of coffee, toast and pastries becomes so much more when the person eating it can sit with friends and family to find fellowship. It becomes connection. Joy. Laughter. Light. For Messiah Church members who live at two local senior living communities, their fellowship continues as they ride the bus to Messiah Church each week, attend Messiah events, and gently encourage new friends to come along.
Jo-Anne Smith, Messiah Church member, takes the bus from Folkstone Senior Living Community to Messiah to attend the Traditional Worship at 8:45 am. Jo-Anne experiences macular degeneration and can no longer drive. She first started attending Messiah with a friend who drove her, but she made it her mission to get the bus to come every week. She now rides the bus to Messiah with other Folkstone community members each week.
For Jo-Anne, inviting others to come to Messiah is all about planting a seed. “I love going down to breakfast,” she said. “Not for the food, but for the fellowship. When someone new comes, if I have the opportunity, I will steer the conversation. I praise Messiah and talk about the bus. I tell them it’s just wonderful and very friendly.”
Jo-Anne will offer to meet them and to sit with them on the bus so that if they’re ready, they’ll know she’s there to help. “The seed has been planted, and now it just has to grow,” she said.
Over in Minnetonka, Messiah Church members at RidgePointe Senior Living Community can also be found talking and laughing together over their breakfasts. Messiah members Ted Pemberton, Ollie and Helen Holter, Mae Scheuneman, Bev and Ralph Van Dixhorn, and Annette Erlandson enjoy laughing together. They make it a point to invite new RidgePointe residents to sit with them for coffee and conversation. Ted said “We say, ‘Sit over here, join us. We want you to feel welcome’.”
The friends also attend services at Messiah Church and ride the bus over together with a few other RidgePointe residents each week. “I feel at home at Messiah,” said Mae. “And I love it when I can see all of the kids.”
“Everyone is so friendly, and it’s more lively than other churches we’ve gone to,” said Helen.
Ted, a Messiah member for 14 years, reflects on how the church has changed over the years, and continues to change. From attending church in more casual attire to broadening its outreach efforts to being able to worship online, he’s seen many changes. He remembers working with Pastor Steve and others to establish the contemporary service. “It was a struggle at first, and now it’s so lively,” he said.
Ted and his friends have especially enjoyed many of the events Messiah has held within the community.
“When it came to (Messiah’s spring musical) Joseph… oh, my!” he said. More than 30 residents at RidgePointe attended “and they wanted to go back to all the performances,” Ted said. “Everyone was delighted!”
Ted also finds fellowship following the service when he joins a large group for coffee at a local restaurant to discuss what was shared in worship. He attended both Pub Theology and Bless the Business at Rock Elm Tavern in the summer and fall, and really enjoyed the opportunity to meet new people. “We had a full house, and Kami (Pohl, Messiah’s Director of Community Engagement) provided paperwork with questions for us to discuss at the tables. It was great!” he said.
The partnership doesn’t end with buses to Messiah or fellowship events. Bloom Early Learning Center partnered with RidgePointe in February to bus preschoolers to RidgePointe for a Valentine’s Day Party. There were crafts, games and treats — and everyone enjoyed themselves.
“The highlight of last year was the Valentine’s Day party,” Ted said. “There was so much excitement from the kids to do things with the older people from here — and from people in their 90s about being able to have very good relationships with one or two kids from Bloom.”
In past years, Messiah brought Christmas Eve services to both Folkstone and RidgePointe senior living communities. “The people here loved to hear Pastor Steve speak,” Jo-Anne said. “They truly loved the group that came over last year.”
As Ted announces the upcoming Christmas Eve service at RidgePointe, he makes sure to let them know how welcoming the message will be and how phenomenal the music from the young singers will be. “It’s a marvelous time, and we are able to fill it up!” he said.
From there, Ted hopes that the fellowship continues at Messiah. “If they’re looking for a place or need a church, we have a great place,” he said.
Messiah will offer a Pre-Christmas Eve candlelight service at RidgePointe on Saturday, December 23 at 3 pm. For more information, contact Joy Ann Harmon at (763) 473-6968 ext 113 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information on the buses from RidgePointe Senior Living Community and Folkstone Senior Living Community to Messiah Church for worship on Sundays, contact the church office at (763) 473-6968.