Baptist church, non-profit join forces in senior housing project

COMO?Pastor Randy Boyte has a tender spot in his heart for retired ministers who spend their golden years without much to live on. He saw his father, a pastor, struggle through a lean retirement.

“If it had not been for the Southern Baptist Annuity Board (now GuideStone Financial Resources), my mother would have been in dire straits,” said Boyte, who is using his experience with his parents to help other retired Southern Baptists?pastors and laymen alike?have a secure place to live.

Through a generous and innovative grant program from the Reno, Nev.-based Elder LifeCare Foundation, a non-profit founded in 2002 to improve quality of life for seniors, Elm Ridge Church in Como will oversee the construction of up to 90 homes for retired Southern Baptist couples over age 70 at no cost to them?except for utilities?for the rest of their lives. Utility costs will be minimal, he said, because the homes will use solar energy.

Boyte said Elder LifeCare Director Steve Patterson, whom he has known for 20 years, contacted him about the project, also jointly sponsored by Coleman & Co. of Branson, Mo. Elder LifeCare has similar ventures in Australia, Canada and Europe.

If nursing care is ever needed, in-home, 24-hour care will be provided as long as residents live, he said, and plans call for a 3,500-square-foot medical facility on the property.

The homes will be built on 90 acres the church purchased 18 months ago adjacent to its worship facilities, and Boyte said he has 10 couples qualified for the 2,000-square-foot homes so far. Boyte and Associate Pastor Vern Hawkins are seeking another 80 qualified couples. The program does not require a couple be impoverished, he noted.

Qualifying Southern Baptist couples must share biblical values. The intent is to build a
community of like-minded believers, Boyte said.

“The church hopes to bless any retired Southern Baptist pastors or retired Southern Baptist laymen couples who are interested in quality living in a gated community and also avail themselves to some added health benefits not normally covered,” Boyte said. “The qualifying couples can of course come from Hopkins County, but could qualify to be a resident in the development regardless of where they may live at the present time.”

The first group of residents will get to choose their floor plans and interior colors, he added.

Phase 1 will include the construction of 30 homes, with two additional phases planned on its land off State Highway 11 near Como, about 80 miles east of Dallas, Boyte explained.

Elder LifeCare Foundation will provide the housing as an insurable interest benefit, with residents granting the foundation the right to purchase a life insurance policy on them with the foundation as the beneficiary.

“They will never have to sign over any bank accounts or other properties they own,” Boyte explained. “This a God-send because this was the land we bought with a vision to bless retired Southern Baptist retirees.

“The benefit for retirees is free housing, solar-paneled energy, and all they have to pay are utilities on this house. But I believe the most awesome part of this is these couples will never, ever have to think about going into the nursing home because of 24-hour, in-home nursing care.”

For more information on the project, contact Boyte or Hawkins at 903-488-3706.

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