Epworth Villa Celebrates 20 years at Brill Chapel

This isn’t just a Sunday chapel. This is an everyday chapel for people that live here. When I walk by this chapel, I just seem to be uplifted. This chapel is a highlight in our lives and provides a season of contentment in our retirement years. -Rev. Marilyn Williams, Chair, Religious Life Committee

The 20th Anniversary Celebration of Brill Chapel at Epworth Villa was celebrated on November 10, 2022. A special vespers service was held that afternoon followed by a reception in the Redbud Room at Epworth Villa. Rev. Laura Glover, who is lovingly known as Pastor Laura in the Epworth community, led the recommitment service. Glover was joined by Rev. Dwight Magnus, Associate Chaplain. In attendance were residents, board members, employees, friends of Epworth Villa, and previous chaplains.

Rev. Margaret North, Rev. Burrell McNaught, and Rev. Gene Spillman — all Epworth Villa residents and choir members — opened the service with the Call to Worship, Declaration of Purpose, and Prayer.

Ron Kelly, Epworth Villa CEO, greeted the congregation and shared a greeting and welcome and was followed by Dr. Steve Ford, Epworth Villa Board Member. Ford emotionally shared how his mother had lived at Epworth Villa for 11 years and passed away on a Sunday morning in 2018. He went on to share how his family hadn’t arrived yet after his mother passed, so he decided to go to Sunday School in Brill Chapel. Ford said that he was caught off guard by a wave of emotion. He joked that he did not remember the lesson that day, but emphatically remembered the care, the love, and the compassion that he felt in that very room – Brill Chapel — as one of his mother’s friends took him by the hand and showered him with love. Ford closed by saying that he was looking forward to more opportunities where love and compassion would be shared in Brill Chapel and throughout the Epworth community.

Resident and Chair of the Religious Life Committee, Rev. Marilyn Williams, shared how robust and vital the religious life is at Epworth Villa and how it is continuing to grow to meet the needs of Epworth’s diverse and ecumenical community. She also shared many of the wonderful new additions to Brill Chapel that have happened in just the last year due to the generosity of residents. Those additions include a new prayer garden adjacent to the Chapel, new screens for worship along with improved audio/visual equipment, beautiful new paraments, new choir robes, and a spectacular new Steinway grand piano. Epworth Villa residents Rev. Helen Taylor, Rev. Jimette McLean, and Rev. Jarrell Tyson also participated in the rededication with the Affirmation of Faith and a reading of the Word.

In this Very Room was beautifully performed by the Villa Voices under the direction of Choir Director Ginger Howl. This song was featured 20 years ago when Brill chapel was opened. Howl and Glover emphasized the significance of including the song in the service. Accompanying the choir were musicians Wes Howl, Rosalyn Kalmar, and Meg Hebblethwaite – all residents of Epworth Villa.

Also bringing greetings and a message on behalf of Bishop Jimmy Nunn and the OK Annual Conference was Rev. Derrek Belase. Belase shared how at one time he was scheduled to preach at a Vespers service in Brill Chapel. As he walked in the doors of Brill Chapel, he received an emergency call that his mother-in-law’s heart had stopped, and she was undergoing emergency surgery, so he needed to get back to the hospital immediately. Belase goes on to say that he handed off his sermon to Lisa Crone, then Chaplain, and said, “The people in that room are the only people in my life that know the depth of prayer that my family needs in this moment.” Belase tearfully addressed and pointed at the congregation and said “You all. You all prayed for someone that you didn’t even know…that day…. Just this community of people that I didn’t even know, who were interceding – as the choir just sang – In this Very Room.”  He continued garnering laughter from the congregation, “My mother-in-law is alive. Not in the metaphorical, pastoral sense. She’s alive! She comes to my house. She plays with her granddaughters. She doesn’t leave on schedule because, in this very room, you all prayed!” Belase concluded, “And every day, I am thankful for you for what you did. Because I know that you do it over and over again. For 20 years this has been the space for the gathering of the faithful to come and be the people of God.”

The Villa Voices sang Come Build a Church followed by a prayer of rededication led by resident Rev. Larry Becker followed by the Benediction given by Rev. Laura Glover. She prayed that each person was recommitted to go forth into the world, redeemed and a blessing to all that they meet. With outstretched arms, Glover concluded with “God loves you, and there is nothing you can do about it. But, with God’s love, there is nothing that you and all of us together cannot do.”

Compassion does give happiness – by Rev. Bert Potts

In November I fainted and fell out of bed, breaking my left femur. I was transported by ambulance
to Mercy Hospital, had surgery, and started the long process of healing. My surgeon said the bone needs
4 months to heal. I was transferred to Skilled Nursing at Epworth. During this time I was in deep pain and
not interested in anything but decreasing the pain. I also had to deal with my fainting episodes and felt
very insecure as the doctors tried to figure out a plan. Nurses and aides cared for my basic needs of
cleaning my bed, and clothing, and making sure there would be no increased infection, but I dreaded their coming to my bed. The pain was just too intense as they had to move me to complete their duties.

I was not trying to blame anyone, but I wanted no more pain. I tried to direct the helpers, but that
did not work. Then I realized I could grab the metal bars on the bed and lift myself up. This was a major
change for me and the workers. Our Skilled Nursing staff did not expect me to be without pain, but my
reaction to pain was frustrating for all of us. As I thought of the long hours of their day and the MANY patients they cared for, I began to think more about their service and less about my pain.

The Dalai Lama offered me a new path with his words in The Book of Joy. He wrote, “The more
time you spend thinking about yourself, the more suffering you experience. A compassionate concern for
others’ well-being is the source of happiness.” Do you wonder about your life and the challenges you
face? Do you find yourself focusing on your own thoughts, ideas, situations, and ideology rather than
having compassion for others? Most of us lose our compassion in today’s changing times whether it be in
our jobs, society, religion, politics, families, or diversity in general. I think Jesus is the one who reminds us
of how to live with others. “Love others as you love yourself” is his teaching, and we need to remember it
in all situations. When we find ourselves bothered by what is happening around us and we feel angry or
frustrated or very unsafe, the beginning place to find peace is by focusing on others. That is how the Dalai Lama handled exile as a young boy, and I believe it is how Jesus handled his persecution.

We are very fortunate at Epworth Villa to have resources so close as we heal. When the Maintenance Team found out I needed safety changes made in our apartment, they immediately came! When I
needed to keep going with my therapy, the therapists were adaptable as they accepted that some days
nausea and fear of fainting were just part of my life. My husband is extra sweet to push me in a wheelchair to and from the sessions, and as we pass the café on the way home, I get a treat! Coke and a hamburger simply make me want to do it all over again!

My life has changed so much since November, but I have learned to focus less on my pain and
more on those helping me and the process itself. I am glad to be here at Epworth Villa, and I appreciate
all of the gifts and prayers during this time of healing. Compassion does seem to be the key, though, to
my happiness. Could it be that way for you too?

God’s Got it Covered – Rev. Laura Glover

“Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving
let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding,
will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” — Philippians 4:6-7

Happy New Year! Though there is no way to tell what a new year will bring, one thing we can
count on is that it will include change. Change can cause anxiety, but it can also present great opportunity. The attitude that we have about change makes a big impact on how successful we are in navigating the changes in our lives, and it also says something significant about our relationship with God. When we are worried and fearful of change, then we are not fully trusting in God’s faithfulness to walk with us and to give us the strength needed to meet whatever challenges lie ahead. We rob ourselves of God’s peace and of the energy we could use to make a positive difference in the situation. That anxiety can also keep us from seeing the wonderful opportunities and blessings that God is offering us in something new.

The Bible, throughout the Old and New Testaments, tells us that not only should we expect great change in life, but that we are also called to be instruments of change in the world. With God, change is not something to fear. It is something to embrace as a part of being faithful disciples of Christ. Yes, the world is changing rapidly, but we worship a great God and are called to give a great witness in the world. What will our witness as Christians be in 2023? Will we add to the anxiety and fearfulness that is churning among so many in the world, or will we pour out patience, resilience, and confidence in God’s presence and provision?

As we move into a new year, this is a great opportunity to chart a course to navigate change
grounded in our faith. Just as Paul encouraged the church at Philippi, I encourage you in this time of
change: do not worry, but instead pray to God with thanks and earnest pleas for guidance and for provision. Whatever changes we have to navigate in the world, we do not face them alone. If we can remain grounded in our faith and trust in our amazing God, we will be able to face whatever changes that may come with strength and with peace. Above all, do not worry because God’s got us covered!

Peace at Christmastime by resident, Rev. Gene Spillman

Like so many families that I know, during the 1980s parents were still alive. Regularly, families on both sides were on our list of places to visit during the Christmas press between noon Christmas Eve and the end of Christmas Day.

In the heat of the season, I tried to visit grandparents in addition to my parents and my wife’s parents. It was my responsibility to include my role as minister leading the Christmas Eve Candlelight Communion in the list of commitments in these intense 48 hours.

It was always great to see all of those people, and for the most part, we celebrated Christmas in each of those places and everyone understood who we were as family, parents, children, and grandchildren. Celebrating the birth of Jesus and His role as Prince of Peace called me to look forward to the day when I would be able to know the “Peace of Christ” in all of the events of the Christmas celebration I worked hard knowing how to keep the relationships of family and the activities in that special time. It was years later before I realized how important it was for me to take charge of my relationship with God and live out my responsibility to keep “peace” in my own life.

Time and age and changes in roles and responsibilities have made finding peace at Christmas a little bit easier these days. In the spirit of believing that “Jesus is the reason for the season,” I continue to remember that it’s my responsibility to keep peace in my life, to search for the peace that God brings to earth all the time and especially during the Christmas celebration each year.

It’s still not easy to find peace in the busy time. I still look for the peace that God brings at Christmas in the time of celebrating the birth of the Prince of Peace, Jesus.

Here’s an invitation for you to seek peace this Christmas season.

Epworth Villa Leaders Receive State Awards

On October, 3 Epworth villa Employees received accolades from the Governor of the State of Oklahoma and the Oklahoma Department of Human Services. Anthony Bunch, Sherry Blose, and Jamie Bannon received the 2022 Governor’s Disability Employment Awards of Excellence.

The Oklahoma Human Services Developmental Disabilities Services website states:

​​​​​“Our mission is to help individuals with developmental disabilities and their families help themselves to lead safer, healthier, more independent, and productive lives.

Developmental Disabilities Services (DDS) serves persons ages 3 and up who have a primary diagnosis of intellectual disabilities.  Persons served may also have other developmental disabilities in addition to intellectual disabilities such as autism, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, etc.”

Epworth Villa extends its congratulations to these three leaders and all those who help members of our team with developmental disabilities.” CEO Ron Kelley said. “We all need help at times, so we are glad to extend a special measure of that help to those with developmental disabilities.  And not only do we feel good about providing help, but we are also the beneficiaries of the joy-filled work and kindness that these co-workers bring to Epworth. The Epworth Villa purpose of Enhancing Lives So People Thrive applies to ALL of those who gather under our roof. We value diversity in all aspects of our community. I congratulate our exceptional leaders for their willingness to nurture and welcome employees with unique abilities.”

Blose, Trainer/Mentor in Environmental Services commented “We all deserve to live full vibrant lives. I am blessed that I get to help our teammates recognize their talents and help them be the best version of themselves they can be.”

Bunch, Blose, and Director of Facilities, Eddie Taylor attended a ceremony on October 26th at the Governor’s Mansion in Oklahoma City where they received their awards.