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Methodists’ Christianity evident by their care for the elderly | Faith Matters

The Jersey Shore has been thought to have therapeutic and spiritual benefits because of its proximity to the ocean.

“People came to the Shore for refreshment and relaxation and spiritual renewal,” said Janet M. Carrato, director of communications and public relations for United Methodist Communities.

Ocean Grove, sandwiched between Asbury Park and Bradley Beach, was founded by Methodist clergy in 1869 as a summer camp meeting center. Today, it is the longest active camp meeting site in the country.  

The state headquarters for the United Methodist Church are about three miles away in Neptune. 

UMC, their housing wing for senior citizen services, is also nearby in Neptune and just changed its name from United Methodist Homes. UMC offers an array of senior citizen residences and services throughout the state. 

Their first community was established in Ocean Grove back in 1907.

Today, throughout the state, they house 1,300 residents and service more than 1,000 associates on nine campuses from Newton in the north to Ocean City in the south. Their full-service communities for 65 and older are in Newton, Collingswood, Pitman and Ocean City. 

They offer independent, assisted and residential living, memory care, respite care, long term care, rehabilitation, hospice and palliative care. 

“This is a ministry, or outreach, of the local church,” said Carrato, who added that UMC is tasked with carrying out the mission of the Methodists in the state.

They also operate five affordable residences for people ages 62 and older with the closest to Hudson County in Montclair and East Orange. The others are in Plainfield, Red Bank and Ocean City. 

These residents experience yoga, gardening, book clubs, Bible study, Senior FITness, woodworking, choral groups, walking clubs, computer and technology instruction, exercise programs and trips to cultural events.

UMC’s mission is “compassionately serving in community so that all are free to choose abundant life.”

Last year, UMC developed Senior Space “as a place for seniors to connect, learn, socialize, take a class, relax.” 

One such site is the Plainfield Public Library where people gather every Wednesday from 10 in the morning until 3 in the afternoon. Most of the programs are free.

“This program provides a continuum of care for people living at home,” said Robbie Voloshin, UMC corporate director  of marketing. 

The program is also offered at the Montclair Public Library. 

“This is all about wellness not sickness,” Voloshin said. 

UMC recently ventured into home care, known as Home Works, where home health aides go into homes for hourly pay. So far, they are caring for about 40 seniors and the hourly fee is what they consider “low” at $20 an hour. (They do not accept Medicaid.)

Voloshin also said that their facilities provide chaplains of various denominations, not only Methodists. For example, Catholic priests are also engaged to say Mass and bring Communion. She, herself, is Catholic and worships at nearby St. Rose Church in Belmar. 

They tally that annually they have more than 26,000 pastoral contacts.  Their volunteer hours amount to almost $650,000 of service.  And their charitable care tops $6 million.

What started out as a religious resort by the sea has become a statewide network of residences and programs all inspired by the Methodists. They live out their Christianity by dedicating over $15 million to the elderly.

EDITOR’S NOTE: The Rev. Alexander Santora is the pastor of Our Lady of Grace and St. Joseph, 400 Willow Ave., Hoboken, 07030. FAX: 201-659-5833; Email:; Twitter: @padrehoboken.



United Methodist Communities, 3311 State Route 33, Neptune, NJ 07753, 732-822-9800.

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