RICHLANDTOWN, Pa. — The seven women, most in wheelchairs, sat in a semicircle facing stained-glass windows and an altar topped with a cross and a statuette of Jesus holding a lamb. Underneath the draped table was an ark-shaped container brimming with small stuffed animals.
Spirit Alive, a weekly multisensory worship service for people with mid- to late-stage dementia, was about to begin at a United Church of Christ-affiliated skilled nursing center 50 miles north of Philadelphia.
The Rev. Jamie Moyer carried out the day’s theme of creation by leading “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands,” holding up pictures of colorful flowers and passing out the soft toys, with each woman choosing one to hold.
“God looked at you and said, ‘Oh, I created you, Ruth,’ ” she said to one resident, as she held up a mirror to the woman’s face and went around the semicircle to affirm each person. “‘I love you very, very much.’ ”