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Billy and Chris Wright’s church family is made up primarily of people with white and gray hair, who sometimes wear pajamas or housecoats into worship.
Sometimes, the churchgoers fall asleep during service, but that’s all right, Chris Wright said.
“A lot of them don’t even realize what they’re wearing, but it doesn’t make any difference,” she said.
The Wrights and their daughter are among a group of eight volunteers who help organize a church service every Sunday for the residents of Kensington Manor in Elizabethtown.
The family members visit rooms in the facility and wander the halls to invite residents — especially those who are strangers to them — to church.
Nurses and aids help the residents get ready for worship in the building’s dining area or help them get to the service as they are.
The services began as an initiative started by local residents about six years ago.
Delores and Allen Baugh of Glendale are two of the church’s founding members. Some members of a church they were attending wondered if there was anything their church could do to further their mission of faith that was different than what most churches do, Allen Baugh said.
“We started exploring the possibilities of what might help somebody,” he said.
They recruited pastor Fred Halbrooks of Louisville. The 90-year-old pastor leads the self supported ministry, which collects no donations from residents.
The retirement community administrators were excited about the idea and the services have continued since.
The initiative has been important to the residents and the volunteers, Allen Baugh said.
“There are people there who never see a family member,” he said. “We just thought there might be a calling there, and it certainly turned out that way.”
The Wrights joined about a year and a half ago when Billy Wright’s mother began attending them as a resident of Kensington Manor. The family continued going even after his mother began receiving home care, Chris Wright said.
“I’m sure that’s where we’ll keep going to church because it’s church,” she said.
The family’s favorite aspect of the retirement community church is the residents with whom they worship. They also visit with the residents afterward, Chris Wright said.
“We’ve gotten really close to the people there,” she said. “You make a lot of good friends there. There’s such a great need there.”
There are some unique consequences to forming strong relationships with people who are older,” Chris Wright said.
“They pass away, and we miss them,” she said.
To the volunteers, the pain of loss is overshadowed by the fellowship they receive in their small church and the positive feeling they get.
Amber Coulter can be reached at (270) 505-1746 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Stories from the Heartland appears Mondays in The News-Enterprise.