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Celebrating 125 Years of Covenant Retirement Communities

CHICAGO, IL (November 4, 2011) – Residents of Covenant Retirement Communities (CRC) have celebrated the 125th year of the ministry by serving others in the same spirit as the Covenanters who established the Home of Mercy in 1886.

The home in Chicago was established to serve the needs of orphans and the elderly who had no other place to go. Over time, similar ministries were started across the country and expanded in their services.

Since then, CRC has experienced tremendous growth and is one of the largest nonprofit retirement housing providers in the country. It is now nationally recognized for its leadership, high quality care, and innovation.

The weeklong celebration at Covenant Village of Colorado (CVC) reflected the activities of other campuses that celebrated the anniversary. CVC focused on “Celebrating Community and Relationships.” They described community as, “Those who are gathered together in community are witnesses to the compassionate Lord. By the way they are able to carry each other’s burdens and share each other’s joys, they testify to God’s presence in our world,” says Karen Johnson, the community’s director of administrative services.

During the week, which also marked the community’s fifteenth anniversary, one day focused on the theme, “Culture of Spirit of Giving – Canned Food Drive,” The food drive wasn’t unusual for the community, as they had been donating about 100 pounds of food each month to surrounding food banks. (They started several years ago after being encouraged by a high-school student to serve the less fortunate in the area.)

The theme day differed from other drives as residents were challenged to donate in one day what they normally contribute in a month. “They took the challenge and we actually brought in five times what we normally do in a month,” says Johnson.

Covenant Village in Turlock celebrated 125 years of Covenant Retirement Communities operations with a day of presentations, and some campus residents wore nineteenth-century costumes.

CRC President Rick Fisk traveled to celebrations at each of the campuses throughout the year. He spoke on “Aging in Grace… The Growth of Covenant Retirement Communities 1886 to 2011.”

The retirement communities have been recognized nationally and locally as being among the best in the country. In San Diego, for example, Mount Miguel Covenant Village was named in the city’s newspaper as “San Diego’s Best Retirement Facility” and “San Diego’s Best Assisted Living Facility.”

The Home of Mercy was established in Chicago just a year after Swedish immigrants formed the denomination. Other homes were established around the country. The early homes were houses that had been converted to serve multiple residents. The ministries were largely supported locally.

As the ministry expanded through the purchase and development of larger retirement communities, a national organization was needed to coordinate the projects. The Covenant Board of Benevolence formed the CRC management committee in 1983 and became a formal organization in 1986.

Since that time, the ministry has not only expanded to include more facilities but also has developed a series of programs designed to offer and promote holistic health care.

“While programs have changed, the motivation has always been the same – providing a safe, friendly environment for seniors,” says Ann Wiesbrock, Covenant Trust Company president and former CRC board chair.

About the Author

  • Marianne Peters is a freelance writer, master gardener, and environmental educator. She lives in Plymouth, Indiana with her husband, two teenage daughters, and two mischievous ginger cats called Fred and George (after the Weasley twins of Harry Potter fame). From 2008-2013 she wrote the Creation Care column for Covenant Companion magazine. In 2011, her family decided to downsize by half, a decision that led to the publication of her book Declutter for Good: Share Your Life and Reclaim Your Life. She blogs about green living and gardening at www.freshwordswriting.com.

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