Christian Worship Experiences for Persons with Dementia

Dementia frequently interferes with a person's ability to connect with and to benefit from regular religious activities and worship styles that had been meaningful in the past. Yet, persons with dementia continue to need to worship and experience a comforting, deep encounter with Christ.

The Handbook for Worship: Christian Worship Experience for Persons with Dementia was created by Holland Home's Spirituality Committee. The project was entitled Evening Star to represent the fact that appropriate worship can shine as a bright light even in the gathering shadows of dementia. 

Dementia frequently interferes with a person's ability to connect with and to benefit from regular religious activities and worship styles that had been meaningful in the past. Yet, persons with dementia continue to need to worship and experience a comforting, deep encounter with Christ. Meeting this need is the core purpose of the Evening Star program. The liturgy structure and worship materials are designed to spark a faith-filled response to God in persons with dementia.

The handbook utilizes six principles for worship:

  1. Worship done within community is especially meaningful
  2. Repetition is essential
  3. Worship memories can be awakened when the same familiar items are used each week 
  4. When a resident is no longer able to speak, the leader can voice familiar and comforting words with that person in a manner that promotes the individual's dignity
  5. Having an additional person - a staff member or volunteer - worshiping with the group serves as an important model for the singing and other elements of the worship service
  6. The worship leaser needs to be intentional about the parts of the service
View the handout

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