Moving to a new senior community can be stressful. It can be even more challenging for seniors who were active in their local church, but now find themselves unable to attend. One American House community has a unique approach to addressing this issue - engaging new residents and existing residents alike.
William Kenneth Vincent, who goes by “Pastor Ken”, has been leading church services at American House Southland, located in Taylor, Michigan, for three years. His appointment to the community began shortly after the previous pastor was unable to continue delivering the Sunday morning message.
“I just saw there was a need,” Pastor Ken said. “And I wanted to help.”
What makes Pastor Ken’s assignment especially unique is he’s also a resident of the community.
At 86, Pastor Ken preaches with the same passion and vigor he’s had for more than 30 years. An ordained minister, he recalls feeling lead to teach the gospel at an early age. Growing up in Kentucky, before eventually settling in Michigan, Pastor Ken says he began delivering sermons to his sisters and niece, standing atop a washtub, at only six years old.
Now, with a growing congregation and an entire community to assist when called upon, Pastor Ken has an opportunity to provide prayer and encouragement to his friends and neighbors every day of the week. His nondenominational services are held Wednesdays and Sundays in the community’s chapel, and he regularly makes house calls to the infirm. “I’ll see anyone who asks,” he said. “And I have an open door policy.”
He’s easy to talk to - a funny guy with a slow, southern drawl; but it’s his compassion for the hurting that makes Pastor Ken so well-loved in his community. No stranger to loss, a widower twice over and recently recovering after major surgery, the community’s devout and nonreligious seem at ease discussing even the most sensitive matters with Pastor Ken.
“I can see a difference in a number of people here,” he said with a smile. “It brings me joy.”
Pastor Ken has found leading his community personally rewarding and says he draws strength from having the ability to serve others. “It’s my job to give out the good.”
Crediting faith for his many years of dedication to biblical teaching, Pastor Ken says he feels better than he has in 10 years. He looks forward to many more years of service, leading the residents of American House Southland.
At times, older adults transitioning into a senior living community may feel isolated, especially when mobility issues arise, and uncertainty about the future looms . Pastor Ken advises new residents to get connected through activities, if church services are offered – go, and remember to think positive. “I can show them and lead them,” he said. “But God does all the work.”