By Bill Webb, Word&Way Editor
Ann Bergen beamed as she welcomed visitors from church into her sitting room at her son Verlyn's Hartsburg home. The 92-year-old is glad to have visitors, but these guests have come to administer the Lord's Supper to her.
Mrs. Bergen has trouble getting around and would not be able to partake of the Lord's Supper without the ministry, which complements the service of First Baptist's Lord's Supper and homebound visitation teams.
The number of people on the church's homebound and nursing home roll varies from season to season and from year to year. At present, it includes about 20 people in nursing homes and private homes like Mrs. Bergen.
The visitors gathered around Mrs. Bergen – her caregiver Larry Robinett at her side — as Rodger Cobb prepared the elements of unleavened bread and grape juice, using a portable kit especially designed for such visits.
He asks if the team can pray for Mrs. Bergen and what she would like for them to pray for. "Pray for my leg and my arm; I broke it the other day," she said, raising her bandaged wrist.
After prayer, Kay Cobb reads passages of Scripture recalling Christ's crucifixion. Then the visitors join Mrs. Bergen in taking the bread. Another passage is read before they drink the juice.
The elderly woman is grateful to participate in the Lord's Supper.
"It's because He died on the cross for us and He shed His blood," she explained. She misses going to church regularly. "Sometimes I get up and feel real good and say, 'I'm going to church,'" and then in five minutes…" she's worn out.
Kay Cobb says the team members receive a blessing from the visits. "I think it makes you feel good and to hear her say that Jesus died on the cross to save me from my sins."
Added Rodger, "I'm sure it tires her out to have company. But you could tell she wanted to talk."
He recalled a visit with another member who had recently suffered a stroke. "The caretaker didn't think she should partake, but she reached out for it [the bread and juice] even though she couldn't talk."
Another couple who have been involved in the ministry for several years, Don and Norma Calvert, also have discovered the blessing of ministering to frail members.
"These homebound may show little response at times and may have difficulty handling the elements, but it is obvious they have experienced a meaningful worship experience when the service is concluded," they reported in an e-mail.
"On more than one occasion we have received a special blessing from having shared a Lord's Supper worship service with someone who was called by the Lord soon after."
An added blessing is that "the service is often attended by other believers who live in the same private home or center," they said. (03-23-05)