Fresh from a family vacation that included zip-lining through trees 180 feet up, Jayne Wood admits that she doesn’t feel like a candidate for a senior living center. But at 62, she qualifies for a place at Foursquare’s groundbreaking new Parkview Living development in Los Angeles—and embodies its adventuresome nature.
Jayne was the first resident to sign up for a spot at the 75-unit complex that opens its doors this month across the street from Angelus Temple. With views of downtown Los Angeles, the stylish development’s amenities include a chapel, heated pool, fitness center and landscaped garden.
But Parkview Living, the first Foursquare Senior Living Community, has been created to be more than quality apartment homes. It aims to model a multifaceted response to needs and opportunities that reflect the very heart of Foursquare.
“The baby boomers are aging, and there is a tremendous need for affordable senior housing,” says Rick Wulfestieg, Parkview’s director of community relations. Formerly head of Foursquare’s ForeRunner ministry to retired pastors, he believes “it’s important to honor the mothers and fathers of the faith in their later years” by providing a home of peace and purpose, “because that honors God.”
In addition to offering single-story units in an attractive community setting that encourages wellness, Parkview seeks to draw on residents’ gifts and experiences by linking them with the congregation of Angelus Temple and ministries of the Dream Center, and other area Foursquare ministries.
“It’s not just a place for seniors who have been faithful in their lives, but somewhere for them to connect with others,” Rick says of Parkview. “We don’t want people to come and sit and soak and sour. We want them to be people who are still growing, engaged in life by serving others.”
An Important Investment
Monthly rents are fair market value, depending on the unit’s location and whether it has one or two bedrooms. Parkview has a critical, additional dimension: Income from the operation will fund Foursquare missions through the Foursquare Foundation, which established Parkview as an LLC. Parkview is a practical, long-term investment.
Rick notes that having established their first senior living project 150 years ago, the Lutherans now have 42,000 senior places generating more than $500 million in annual revenues.
“That is a model of good stewardship,” he adds, “though our goal is not just about getting people in and getting rent money; we are working to see a continuation of God’s story in their lives.”
Foursquare leaders believe the concept is ripe for reproducing by other churches in the movement that have unused land that can be repurposed in similar fashion. Work on a second Parkview-style development in Portland, Ore., began in May.
It’s no coincidence that the first step in such an ambitious blending of honoring the past, providing in the present and preparing for the future has been taken in the shadow of Foursquare’s birthplace, says Rick. Parkview’s hillside location overlooking Echo Park is “very significant,” he believes.
“When Aimee Semple McPherson built Angelus Temple right across the street from Echo Park, people would come to the church and picnic in the park; it was a place to go to gain a fresh perspective of life and ministry,” he tells Foursquare.org. “We see Parkview being a continuing part of her mission, a place to find renewal and a place not to end life, but to come to rediscover life the way God intended, to find purpose and focus in their years ahead.”
A Continuing Ministry
For Jayne Wood, her new home is conveniently located close to her work in the insurance office at the neighboring Foursquare central office. The draw goes beyond just practicalities, however. Moving into Parkview is her way of honoring her late husband, David, who died in 2011.
A third-generation Foursquare pastor who later served as a department manager at Foursquare’s central office for 17 years, David had worked with Greg Campbell, Foursquare Foundation executive director and Parkview visionary, on the project.
Having been involved with her husband in Angelus Temple’s senior ministry and through her experiences following her own loss, Jayne hopes to be able to minister to widows and other seniors at and through Parkview. She also sees her new home continuing the family’s legacy of ministry; her father-in-law owned and ran a retirement home in Bellflower, Calif., for many years.
“I’m very active. It’s hard to think of myself as a senior, but I am, I guess,” she says. “Sixty is the new 40. I love to interact with people, and God has given me a heart for widows and widowers, to help others.”
Offering six floor plans, the 1.2-acre development has been welcomed by local civic leaders. Los Angeles city council president and mayoral candidate Eric Garcetti, scheduled to perform the upcoming ribbon cutting on June 26, says Parkview “will bring beautiful new and needed housing” to the area.
Though Parkview’s creators hope it will be particularly appealing to retirees from church ministry, the center is open to all applicants. Residents will need to find other housing when they are no longer able to be independent, but Rick anticipates people living there well into their 80s and even 90s.
“We’re looking for those with a Caleb heart,” he says, still ready for a mountain—or zip line.
By: Andy Butcher, a freelance writer living in the Orlando, Fla., area