Lynchburg organization encourages faith community to fill gaps in senior care
Serving the community goes well beyond the sanctuary at Peakland United Methodist Church.
"We are called to love our neighbor as ourselves," said Peakland's pastor, John Vest.
The staff provides a variety of services to people who worship at the church, and those who don't.
More than 20 of their programs are geared toward seniors, including an initiative called "Hand-in-Hand."
"It's for adult children who are becoming parents to their parents," Vest explained.
The ministry provides counseling and support for families dealing with dementia and Alzheimer's disease.
"About half the group is from the community and not formally associated with Peakland church," Vest said.
Peakland's efforts are something the Beard Center on Aging at Lynchburg College is trying to replicate at other houses of worship.
"We are hoping to work with our faith communities to address some of the gaps in senior services that we have," said Denise Scruggs, director of the Beard Center on Aging.
Scruggs says many seniors can't afford to pay for the support they need as they get older.
"There are a lot of ways churches can help," said Scruggs.
Ways like delivering meals, or simply checking on seniors who don't have family close by to watch out for them.
"It really is just being in the community together, caring for one another, and doing right by one another," said Vest.
The Beard Center will put a focus on this topic at an event next month called the "Faithful Aging" conference. It's being held March 14 at Lynchburg College. The event will feature religious leaders and professionals from the medical community.
Participants need to register in advance.