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Posted: March 17, 2011 6:53 p.m.

Merryvale ministry celebrates anniversary

Twelve years ago, Perry Kirk was approached by his pastor at First Baptist Church of Covington regarding a need for ministry at a new assisted living facility.

As a result, in March of 1999, the first church service was instituted at Merryvale Assisted Living on Ga Highway 142 in Oxford.

Perry, his wife, Marvlyn, Steve and Debbie Aldridge and several others who have faithfully contributed to the ministry celebrated its 12th anniversary on March 13.Ten people attended the initial service. The service now averages more than 40.

Through the years they have brought special groups to Merryvale, including a hand bell choir and a gospel choir which helped them hold a tent revival. The weekly service includes music with Debbie Aldridge on the piano and preaching.
The only way The Kirks knew how to approach the ministry was to treat it as if it were a regular church.

"What was surprising was the way we have ministered (not only) to the residents, but their families as well," Kirk said.

Marvlyn Kirk said she was apprehensive at first. "I was unsure about taking this ministry on because I felt I had nothing in common with the people," she said. "As it turned out, we have much in common, and they have blessed me more than I have blessed them."

As the ministry developed, Merryvale residents requested that the Kirks receive an offering. Perry was opposed: "We came to give, not receive."


He relented and negotiated a compromise. Each week, a plate is laid out and members of the congregation are able to give. With no salaries or overhead, they have taken the offerings to assist missionaries overseas, tsunami relief, Samaritan's Purse and many other ministries.

Mickey and Donna Miller have been active in the ministry over the past four years. She is also the director of Merryvale's Rose Lane, the memory care support unit. Kirk passed preaching responsibilities to Steve Aldridge as of January but continues to be involved with the ministry.

Volunteer opportunities are available.

"I think everybody should get involved in something like this," said Marvlyn Kirk. You never know how it will bless your life."

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