We promote Christian mission and our religious heritage and values through a multi-faceted program of mission education and celebration, which is designed to reinforce our identity as a Wesleyan-Christian ministry, strengthen our culture of servant ministry and integrate our values into the fabric of our organization. A few examples of our innovative initiatives are noted below.
Commissioning & Missioning Services
We have implemented Commissioning Services for our Board of Directors, Executive Directors and Housing Administrators, Installation Services for our new Directors of Mission and Pastoral Care and Missioning Services for all associates in each community, which celebrate our calling to be in ministry with and to older adults. We thus educate our associates about our mission, seek to inspire their investment in it, and create a culture that embraces a deeper understanding of being in servant ministry, in addition to giving exceptional customer service.
In order to increase associates’ ownership of our mission, vision and values and ensure that celebration and education about them remains an ongoing focus in our communities, we have created Associate Mission Teams in each full service community and combined associate and resident-based Housing Mission Teams in our Housing Communities. The Associate Mission Teams are responsible for celebrating our mission, vision and values and engaging in outreach ministry within their communities. This ensures that mission education will be an ongoing initiative and invites associates to take leadership in it. The Housing Mission Teams are responsible for engaging in creative outreach ministry, which supports residents’ sense of meaning and purpose by being able to serve and give back to others for all the blessings they have received.
Encouraging Associate Mission-Oriented Service
In addition to creating Mission Teams, we encourage and support associates’ participation in mission projects as a way to give back to by service the communities where our communities are located. For example, our corporate Human Resources team organized an ongoing service project where Home Office Associates volunteer one Friday morning per month sorting food items at the Monmouth County Food Bank. Associates participate on work time on several occasions per year on a rotating basis, so everyone at the Home Office has an opportunity to participate, if they wish to do so, and UMC is able to provide ongoing support to the Food Bank. Individual associates have experienced a sense of purpose in giving back to the community by serving others and have come to value that United Methodist Communities supports their service in this way beyond the office walls.
Spiritual Life and or Chapel Committees
Bristol Glen associates collect food for and volunteer at Manna House in Newton.
Our full-service communities have been faith-based entities since their inception and have a long tradition of empowering resident-led ministries. Currently, four of our five, non-HUD, senior retirement communities have either Spiritual Life or Chapel Committees in which residents work together with the chaplain to oversee worship and spiritual programming and engage in various forms of mission and outreach ministry. These committees report to the Resident Council and maintain budgets derived from their chapel donations. Each Spiritual Life or Chapel Committee maintains their own, unique programs based on the interests and needs of the residents. For example, the Bristol Glen Spiritual Life Committee, conducts an annual food drive to support area food pantries, has hosted special worship services like the Blessing of the Animals and has formed “Teaching Committees” to support Drew students who have served as Chaplain Interns at Bristol Glen. Additionally, they support a child on an Indian Reservation in North Dakota through a Christian children’s fund and offer two, one thousand dollar scholarships for seminarians annually. The Chapel Committee at Pitman created a Prayer Room (Rev. Kim Wecht, Director of Mission and Pastoral Care pictured in the Pitman Prayer Room). The Spiritual Life or Chapel Committees in each community engage in similar ministries, which give residents’ choices that enhance their sense of purpose and involve them as leaders and partners in ministry within each community.