“Grace to Provide Tender Care”
Have you ever felt that the values of church culture in the US are out of whack? Celebrity-cult of personality-consumer-fad of the moment -hype driven for example? Here’s a story from the NYT of a simple, everyday saint who you wont find on God Tube, Amazon or in the conference listings at the back of CT or Charisma magazine.
In Harlem, a Minister Serves Those Who No Longer Can
By Trymaine Lee
“It was about 20 minutes after lunch at the Northern Manhattan Nursing Home on 125th Street in Harlem, and the sounds of feet shuffling and wheelchairs squeaking in a ninth-floor hallway seemed to fade as the Rev. Olevia Stewart-Smith began to read aloud the Lord’s Prayer. ‘Our Father,’ she read, her voice rising, filling a large room at the end of the hall. In little more than a whisper, Florence Berry, a 96-year-old deacon at Harlem’s Canaan Baptist Church of Christ, with side-swept gray hair and a sweater the color of cotton candy, mouthed along, ‘who art in Heaven.’ It is a staple of pastoral work: visiting the sick or the shut-in. And there are scores of ministers and church elders throughout Harlem who have been doing it for decades. But across the years, when the ministers and elders themselves have taken ill, they have often been neglected. Ms. Stewart-Smith, day by day, visit by visit, works to prevent such isolation, becoming, in a sense, the caregiver to Harlem’s caregivers. As the chairwoman of the sick and shut-in committee of the Baptist Ministers’ Conference of Greater New York and Vicinity, she visits ill members of the 111-year-old fellowship, made up mostly of black clergy members and church elders from Harlem. She offers prayer and Holy Communion, flowers, cards and candy, anything to show them, she said, that they are not forgotten.
‘God didn’t call me to be in the pulpit,’ said Ms. Stewart-Smith, 66, a member of Canaan Baptist who attended the seminary after a career as a social worker with the city’s Department of Aging. ‘He called me to be in nursing homes and the hospitals and bedsides.”
Read the rest here.
(The title “Grace to provide tender care” is from Steve Crosby’s excellent book “Healing- Hope or Hype?”)