What’s been happening at Westerley this year?

As part of my role as Lay Community Worker for our church, I have the honour of being Chaplain at Westerley Christian Care Home, supporting both residents and staff in their own journey with God. So we thought you may appreciate a little update on what has been happening at the home since the start of the last Connexional year.

Although, in the past, Westerley was a Methodist care home, it is now very much an ecumenical space and one thing that has grown over the last year is the variety of denominations that now come in to share in devotions, prayers, communion and reflection. Part of my role in inviting people to come and worship and organising the devotional rota, means that I get to liaise and build relationships with all the churches in the area. The residents currently enjoy devotions at least four days a week – with the other days being taken up with craft and a wonderful array of day trips – and they enjoy a wide variety of worship styles. We have representatives from the Church of England, The United Reform Church, The Baptist Church, The Catholic Church and, of course, those of us that attend from our own Circuit. The residents enjoy hymns and songs, live worship music from time to time, poems and stories about a passage from scripture, readings and also share in small discussions about how certain hymns make them feel or meanings behind messages from the Bible. We are also in the early stages of trying to get an afternoon friendship and discussion group up and running and I am looking to set up a Bible study in the coming months. It is also a tremendous privi- lege to get to spend individual time with the residents, to listen and to pause with them in the presence of God.

One resident said, “In the last year, I have noticed that more resi-dents come down to devotions again. We have all the seats in the lounge taken and the hymn singing is loud. Even those who are quiet join in when the hymn music they know starts playing!”

A member of staff said, “We don’t feel like we have to stay away if there is a service on, we have to do our job but if we need to come in, we’re welcomed with a smile and feel like we’re a part of it too.”

For me, as Chaplain, when I am leading devotions, there is a wonderful moment when we share in the Lord’s Prayer or the Grace. For some, they are happy just to be in the room when we are having a service and they may not join in but, without fail, when we share in the words that Jesus taught us to pray, all those there lift their voices.

As well as the development of their spiritual well-being, the residents have enjoyed a tremendous year of activities and outings such as:

Sea shanties being sung and shared; Health in Motion in- chair exercise sessions; presentations about Dunster Castle and the Luttrell family; flute and harp recitals; a talk about the history of Coca Cola; a Christmas pantomime performed by yours truly and a number of circuit members and Westerley Staff; Guitar and clarinet playing; singers; hand bell ringers; guide dogs and visiting animals from Secret World; they had a big party to celebrate the Coronation and even received a message of thanks from His Majesty King Charles, after the home sent a letter of condolence at the late Queen’s passing. The residents have also been enjoying mini-bus outings to the local area and one resident said,

“To see the beautiful place we live in and to see the sunshine and the outside world has been beyond a blessing. Makes you feel alive.”

The blessing of working in this home, to be even a small part of the team here, of both staff and residents, is to really pause and see God at work and when I see the life and happiness amongst the residents I am reminded of the C.S Lewis quote,

“You’re never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.”

I would like to offer special thanks for the hard work and support of Ian Atkins, who makes doing my work at Westerley a real joy.

By Penny Williams