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Sunday in the Company of Friends

The pianist plays ten measured strokes on the “church bell” keyboard to indicate that the weekly Interdenominational Worship Service is about to begin. But before those solemn notes, a group of dedicated resident volunteers have converted the stage in Rawlinson Hall into the semblance of a sanctuary of a church with banners, candles and flowers.

Greeters have dispensed hymnals to churchgoers, and 12-member choir has practiced anthems, hymns and liturgical responses to be sung during the Worship Service; a program has been distributed listing the clergy for that Sunday.

Rev. Bill Teague, a Presbyterian minister and son of a late resident, proposed the tag line: The pursuit of life in the company of friends. Worship committee members have embraced the motto and it appears each week on the cover of the Order of Service program.

This is a resident-driven service that borrows parts of religious rubrics from many faiths. The chair of the Worship Committee invites Protestant ministers, rabbis, Catholic priests and ordained laypersons to lead each week’s service. It is always interesting to get different opinions on both the Old and New Testament and the different styles of preaching and delivery bring sensitivity and devotional fervor to Sunday services.

A resident lector reads epistle and gospel verses from the Bible; another resident gives a list of people who need prayers as they recover from surgery, recuperate at Laurel Creek Health Center or are confined to their homes because of various health issues. A monthly communion service is staffed by resident ushers and lay ministers from the community.

There is a voluntary offering, a basket discreetly positioned outside the auditorium and a sign-up sheet for those who wish to provide flowers for the weekly service. The PVE Worship Service is a profession of faith, attended by residents who for many reasons, have had to change their church attendance from familiar settings, but who find spiritual peace here.

Founded in 1999 by early residents, the Worship Service offers a place of quiet reflection. It has had several homes; a small room adjacent to the present location, and at one time, The Club, and has finally found its home in Rawlinson Hall, which is large enough to accommodate the many residents who gather there every Sunday morning.

At the end of the service, the congregation joins hands and sings “May The Good Lord Bless and Keep You,” a postlude is played and everyone shakes hands with the clergy. These rituals are familiar echoes of prior church or synagogue services.

Faith, hope and love have been observed, and comforted residents go forth to enjoy Sunday Brunch together.

All is well spiritually at Paradise Valley Estates.