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Pinnacle Living Partnership with the Virginia Conference

By the Rev. RJ Jun, Associate Director of Serving

Pinnacle Living. You must have heard about the name, with all the merchandise we received from the Annual Conference in the times we actually met in person! Can you believe that it has been three and a half years since Pinnacle changed its name from Virginia United Methodist Homes? For me, however, other than the fact that I would visit Hermitage Roanoke from time to time, Pinnacle Living was another paragraph in the Book of Reports.

Pinnacle Living started as a ministry of the Virginia Conference of the Methodist Church in 1948. Despite the name change, I still knew that our conference was in a close relationship with Pinnacle Living, but that was as far as my understanding extended. It wasn’t until I had the privilege to walk around Cedarfield and Hermitage Richmond’s campuses, did I understand the fantastic partnership we had with this organization and how they are living out the call to incarnate God’s love to God’s people.

One of my first tasks was to collect the annual reports submitted by our Relational Partners (Pinnacle Living, UMFS, Heart Havens, Wesley Housing, and Virginia United Methodist Housing Development Inc.). Our correspondence with the Director of Church and Community Relations and our proud Conference Lay Leader, relayed an invitation for me to visit Pinnacle Living. Knowing that a picture can paint a thousand words,’ I leaped to schedule a visit to both Cedarfield and Hermitage Richmond!

From left, RJ Jun, associate director of Serving; Martha Stokes, Pinnacle Dir, Church and Community Relations; Michael Shaw, Director of Cedarfield; Chris Henderson, President and CEO, Pinnacle Living.

At the entrance, the leadership team was waiting to share the mission and vision of Pinnacle Living. Pinnacle Living was able to transform their communities under the commitment to fulfill the mission of ‘”Enriching Life’s Journey.” They consider that they are committed to a ministry to enrich the lives of the residents, but also contribute to the life journey of the members of the Virginia Conference. In the effort of “Enriching Life’s journey,” I heard how the leadership and staff poured out their effort to be “person-centered.” Their commitment to understanding the people they are called to serve was evident in every detail of their community. The model reminded me of Christ’s ministry to the world, which we often call “incarnation.” God came to us, in a human form, where we are and where we needed to touch the light, and it was a blessing to see how Pinnacle Living was bringing light to the full extent of one’s life journey.

After touring Cedarfield, we drove over to Hermitage Richmond, where it all started. Pinnacle Living, which now consists of five locations around the Commonwealth, began with a Vision and a handful of United Methodists, who were committed to building communities for everyone.

I was fascinated by the story of Rev. Dr. Bernard Via, who was appointed to start a health care community, as he and his wife Armen Via, moved from Charlottesville and moved into the mansion with the first resident of Hermitage. It made me think, “Would I be able to change and shift my entire career according to an appointment from the bishop?” It also made me appreciate the work of our preceding Methodist preachers, who were pioneers in building faith communities that will share the light to this world. It is known that Via was foundational in expanding the communities to Northern Virginia, Norfolk, and the Eastern Shore.

The community at Hermitage Richmond still embodied the values of “Enriching Life’s Journey,” as they made improvements to the original building. Each community had its distinctive characteristics, meeting the needs of the residents as the staff and residents grew together as a family. The hidden gem I discovered at Hermitage Richmond was the chapel that was built by the Virginia Conference Guild. The chapel is surrounded by eight stained glass windows depicting the life and journey of Jesus Christ and continues to invite faithful followers to trust in the promise of the cross.

At the end of the tour, there was one thing evident. It was evident that the leadership and staff at Pinnacle Living truly appreciated the partnership with our Conference. At the same time, they have a lot to offer to our ministries and local churches. I also noticed that it takes continuous effort to make one paragraph on the Book of Reports come alive, and I want Serving Ministries to continue in our effort to strengthen our ministry together!

This is our first attempt to strengthen our partnership with Pinnacle Living. It is also another way to remind us that starting from Mother’s Day to Father’s Day our conference is dedicated to supporting the ministry of Pinnacle Living, through the Samaritan Program, which is a special offering of the churches of the Virginia Conference United Methodist Churches, since 1948, to offer financial assistance to residents who have outlived their monetary resources, and our unable to meet the financial responsibilities. This will be the first step, but we also ask you to pray and get involved, and experience how we can witness God ‘Enriching our life journey TOGETHER!