PERRY -- Six miles north of Perry on U.S. 41 is Church Home Rehabilitation and Healthcare, a nursing home and rehabilitation facility operated by Christs Sanctified Holy Church since 1939.
Begun in an old farmhouse, the facility originally served as a simple home for the churchs elderly but today is a modern, 50-bed, skilled nursing care facility.
Church Home has now entered a two-phase, $6.3 million expansion project, adding 26 beds in its first phase and enlarging rehabilitation capabilities in the second.
But the Church Home isnt all thats grown on the property.
The property itself has grown from an original 525 acres bought in 1938 for $10,000 to the 900-plus acres in Houston and Peach counties that stretch along both sides of U.S. 41 and extend west to Interstate 75, according to Floyd Hagan Sr., chairman of the governing board of Christs Sanctified Holy Churchs 19 associated churches.
The property is home to the care facility and the denominations headquarters, cemetery and a campground where thousands of the groups faithful gather from far and wide for a summer camp meeting. Theres also a booming retirement and vacation community and an expansive pecan grove.
Hagan, originally from Raleigh, N.C., said the original idea for the home was to provide a place for the denominations evangelists and ministers to come following a life of traveling and preaching the groups message of salvation.
Weve always had a desire to minister to the elderly, and the Church Home has been central to that, he said. Its been here for our people, and its continually been upgraded. Weve also been able to reach out to serve the elderly in the surrounding community. Its a five-star nursing home, and residents receive first class, loving care from all the staff.
Hagan said the facility not only serves the community but that area churches often serve residents as well through activities like providing choirs to sing. He said 10 to 20 percent of nursing home residents are church members, with the rest coming from neighboring areas.
A second original priority for the property was as a home to the association of churches summer camp meeting, which is central to the groups history.
There are in excess of 1,000 members in our churches, but there are a lot more people who still come to camp meeting every year, Hagan said. We have around 2,000 people out here then, a lot of them young people or others whove moved to cities where we dont have churches. Plus, the meetings are always open to the community and people come who live around here. Its a great time of spiritual refreshing with lots of joyous services with singing and clapping. People who havent seen each other all year get to fellowship.
Hagan said he was at the first camp meeting in 1939 when he was 6 years old, and meetings were in a wooden tabernacle building. Theyre now conducted in an expansive, brick sanctuary surrounded by a dining hall and other support facilities.
Though the property was originally seen as a place where people could stay during camp meetings, church members quickly became eager to visit and live there long-term. Driving through the property with its biblically named streets is similar to riding through a compacted beach vacation resort where every inch of space is used for cottages, cabins and larger houses.
All the property is owned by the church, but people build their own dwellings here, Hagan said. There are about 200 cottages or dwellings, and we make the most of acreage. There are also about 20 camping and RV sites. About 75 people have retired to live here year round.
Seeing what the property has become and meant to members, Hagan credits the groups forbearers with great vision.
There was a lot of foresight on their part to begin this, he said. Theres also been a lot of love and work poured into it by others through the years. Many of the facilities were built through volunteer efforts of members, and theyve done a beautiful, beautiful job. Its a real testimony. It all works hand in hand because the people that worship here from the campground feel a sense of mission to visit in the nursing home and talk and mingle with residents and observe that the care given is what it ought to be.
Contact Michael W. Pannell at email@example.com.