Tribune Print Share Text

Title

Spanning the spiritual spectrum

Faith groups at Ann’s Choice celebrate one another’s traditions

Created date

April 7th, 2017
(From left) Lyn Swan, Ellen Newman, and Marie Kirchner, who practice different faiths, pose in Ann’s Choice’s eclectic spiritual library. Community members and staff alike patronize the library.

(From left) Lyn Swan, Ellen Newman, and Marie Kirchner, who practice different faiths, pose in Ann’s Choice’s eclectic spiritual library. Community members and staff alike patronize the library.

People who live at Ann’s Choice, Erickson Living’s retirement community in Bucks County, Pa., form strong friendships over meals and during shared activities. They support one another in times of sorrow and difficulty. 

Those friendships routinely cross spiritual borders. People of all faiths, and with none, live in harmony at Ann’s Choice. 

According to its mission statement, “Ann’s Choice Pastoral Ministries helps residents to celebrate life by sharing each other’s wisdom, diversity, and spirituality! It is the residents of Ann’s Choice who cultivate all the Pastoral Ministries activities that occur here.”

Faithful collaboration

Pastoral Ministries Manager Jim Sutton says his role is to find ways to make community members’ faith- and spirituality-related ideas happen.

Program ideas flow from the community’s Catholic, Jewish, and Protestant faith councils and its 20-member interfaith committee that includes people with no faith affiliation. 

For example, the Catholic and Protestant councils collaborate on Holy Week services, worship and Communion services take place on a regular schedule, and the Jewish Residents Council has initiated a monthly lecture program. 

One lecture featured Sutton and Dr. Ruth Sandberg, professor of Christian and Jewish Studies at Gratz College, discussing Judaism and Christianity from their different perspectives. It attracted community members from across the spiritual spectrum. 

Celebrating together

To celebrate the Easter and Passover traditions this April, a special chapel program will feature the interfaith Ann’s Choice choir, a choir from a local synagogue, and one from a local Catholic parish singing together, “Let There Be Peace on Earth.” 

Kol Nidre, a Passover Eve service held in the chapel, will be led by a cantor but will feature the Bryn Athyn Cathedral Choir, a New Church choir.

Chapel services are open to all. “Regardless of your faith affiliation,” says Sutton, “you are always invited to attend all functions of Pastoral Ministries and Ann’s Choice faith councils.”

Marie Kirchner, who is Catholic, attends Torah classes at Ann’s Choice. The on-campus availability inspired her to participate. “It’s very diversified here,” she says, “and it means a lot to have these things available.”

She’s also attended a Hanukkah lighting ceremony and a panel discussion with residents of different faiths explaining what their faith means to them and how they live it out at Ann’s Choice. 

If she lived elsewhere, “I wouldn’t feel comfortable going to a synagogue because I wouldn’t know anyone,” says Marie. “And programs might be at night when I don’t drive.”

Comments