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‘I don’t want to give up my church when I move’

How to transition to a new place of worship

Created date

March 20th, 2012

Mary Brotherton has been an active member of Old Brick Reform Church, in Marlboro, N.J., for 60 years. As she puts it, That s a long time to be a part of a church community. When Mary considered moving to Seabrook, Erickson Living s community in Tinton Falls, N.J., its spiritual component played a big role in her decision. Like all Erickson Living properties, Seabrook maintains an interfaith community for residents. I like the philosophy of the interfaith community here. It s one of the reasons I moved here they have an interest in the spiritual part of aging, Mary says. Mary s story is a familiar one. For many people considering a move in retirement, leaving their home church or synagogue weighs heavily on their decision. Seabrook offers support for its new community members to help them transition and sometimes continue to stay involved with their place of worship.

Gradual transition

Like the majority of people who move to Seabrook, Mary came from a nearby town. Since moving in August 2009, she has continued to attend services at Old Brick Reform Church while gradually transitioning to Seabrook s Protestant community. We have a number of people here with one foot in their outside community and one foot in the Seabrook community, says Rev. David Bowman, pastoral ministries manager. The Wednesday evening service allows them to get the best of both worlds, he says. They go to Sunday service at their home church and the Wednesday service here. It was important that I could stay involved with my home church, Mary says. I ve been gradually transitioning though; I ve been attending Seabrook services more frequently. She attributes her recent uptick to convenience and comfort. My religious faith is a very important part of my life to have it as part of the premises here has been wonderful, especially to have everything under one roof, she says. Aside from convenient best of both worlds services, the faith communities have welcome committees to help new residents get acclimated. Anyone feeling hesitant or guilty about leaving his or her former congregation can talk to a pastoral associate at any time, but most counseling happens in conversation with their neighbors, Bowman says.

Community bonds

Community members form bonds and friendships as much as they rely on pastoral associates to lead worship services, classes, and workshops. I admire the time and effort that pastoral ministries puts into all people here to enrich the spiritual aspects of life and aging, Mary says. At Seabrook, each faith council aids the pastoral associates in creating community. This spring, for example, each plans to celebrate their respective holidays with feasts, gatherings, and, of course, religious services. Members also volunteer in various aspects of the community. Sheila Intner, a member of Seabrook s Jewish community since 2008, helps plan and execute Judaic events and leads the Jewish film series. Sheila s transition came naturally, she says. She believes simply becoming involved helps make the transition easier. Affiliating with one s [faith] community is very important. It s a place to meet people, do activities that are good for the general community, and to feel at home, she says. Searching for a way to give back, Sheila volunteered as the associate Jewish chaplain. She visited ailing community members, which for her became a very moving, emotional experience. Then, with her background as a professor of library science, she began leading the Jewish film series. Participating has been very rewarding, Sheila says. It s satisfying to know that I can give back to my community.

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