Vespers began on Easter Sunday in 2014 at the invitation of Jeanine Leal, former Activities Director. Vespers has met every Sunday since, except once when Christmas fell on a Sunday, and during evacuation for Hurricane Harvey, of course. Originally held in the Memory Support dining room, Vespers grew into the parlor, a living room area of the Memory Support residence. Vespers averages around 30 people each week, all with varying degrees of cognition, mobility, hearing and sight. The target audience of Vespers is the Plaza, particularly Memory Support.
“Our time together is spent, just like in a church setting, singing, greeting and interacting,” Emily Weaver explained.
Lately, Vespers has been digitally broadcasted on Mirador’s private TV channel through a communication program called Touchtown. Southside Community Church puts together hymns (with lyrics on screen), clips of Emily and other volunteers praying or encouraging, and a short message. These videos are new each week, and the video from earlier this month can be viewed here.
Our philosophy is that we faithfully put forth the seed of God’s truths found in His Word, the Scriptures. God, Himself, then delivers His message to hearts and produces the results of His intention. We talk about this period of life as not being the last chapter. We talk about what we know of Christ, His Kingdom, and what it will be like as we move on to live with Him. We talk about the beautiful, often familiar hymns and prayers such as “The Lord’s Prayer.” We seek to provide a message of hope that is well applied. We are delighted to see and be a part of very special “Ah hah!” moments with these very special people! –Emily Weaver, Independent Living resident, co-founder
“At some point over 3 years ago, I began to feel a little ‘dry’ spiritually,” Emily said.
At that same time, Dr. Graf & his wife Leigh came to Emily at their Presbyterian church. Dr. Graf is the chorale director at Del Mar College, and he and Leigh both have master’s degrees from Bob Jones University, a private, evangelical university in South Carolina.
They expressed interest in helping out. The Grafs took initiative to become part of Vespers, and for 2 years now, the couple and their 3 daughters have visited Mirador monthly. Aside from the recommended community service that comes with being part of faculty at Del Mar College, the Grafs consider Vespers a mission field for their family.
“It was like being in their living room. They lit up that piano. When they came, we outgrew the Parlour,” Emily exclaimed.
When Vespers initially grew to the Coastal Bend Hall with the arrival of the musical Graf family, there were no wheelchairs. Emily Weaver asked Deborah Nugent, Executive Director, for guidance on jumping this hurdle.
“We were not going to the Coastal Bend Hall without our people. The CNAs have been like a little army, getting the residents to us,” Emily said.
As the founding mother of Vespers, Weaver prioritizes cognitively appropriate worship, making sure the program is sensitive to those with different backgrounds, too. Her attention to detail for Vespers is a residual feature of her background as an elementary school teacher. Emily takes care to choose classic hymns and types each song in a large font for attendees to easily read from on their handouts. At the end of Vespers, residents, clutching the paper tight, don’t want to let go.