Church Champion Story: St John’s Walton, Chesterfield

Chair Exercises

Author: Hazel Platt

Faith in Later Life Church Champion Hazel, is the Seniors Ministry Lead at St John’s Walton. Here she tells us more about the tremendous range of groups which are bringing older people over the church threshold week by week, as well as the ways in which the church is reaching seniors in nursing homes and assisted living establishments.

“Looking at the lovely postcards for Church Champions to use to stay in contact with seniors  over the Summer, I thought I would write a bit about what we do at St John’s Walton.  We have several groups that we run with the aim of reducing social isolation and improving wellbeing.  Our church mission statement is “Knowing Jesus and making him known”.  We believe that our seniors ministry is a way in which we can witness and spread God’s love throughout our community.

Those attending our groups include a significant number of people from our community who are not church members – although quite a few have actually become part of our Tuesday congregation over the years.  We live out the love of Jesus by welcoming all and valuing our precious seniors.

The groups we run include: a monthly friendship group with a varied programme of activities; a monthly singing group for people with dementia and their carers, featuring the “ukulele ladies”; a monthly writing for wellbeing group which encourages reminiscence and expression of feelings; a weekly chair based exercise class, and a weekly standing balance class, both for physical wellbeing.

We have a choir that goes out to local nursing homes and assisted living establishments and also run a weekly chair based exercise group at one of the assisted living facilities.  Our programme of events continues all through the Summer months, in fact we run a two day holiday at home event every July with activities, speakers, crafts and a bit of pampering.

Our first group, the singing group, started in 2008 and the ministry has grown organically over the years by listening to what our seniors need and responding as we are led.  We are very blessed to have so many willing and able volunteers, which makes it possible to continue to provide a service for our seniors throughout the whole year.  Our volunteer exercise class leaders are trained and work with the NHS/Age UK falls prevention service to keep our seniors fit and on their feet.

All of our groups are very well attended and we receive very positive feedback about how welcoming the church is and how much each group is enjoyed.  We are thankful for God’s hand on this ministry.  “He will renew your life and sustain you in your old age”  Ruth 4:15″

We’re grateful to Hazel for sharing her experience with us. Please pray for her and her team as they continue to serve older people in their community.

If there’s something you do in your church or community which is helping people to have faith in later life, we’d love to hear from you!