The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Globe Life

July 1, 2013

Medical ministry: Chaplain makes Spring River Christian Village his church

JOPLIN, Mo. — Allen Brintnall's Thursday started in front of a stretcher and at a funeral. It ended with donations of recycled materials to the Carthage Family Crisis Center.

The assistant administrator at Spring River Christian Village is also its chaplain. And though the center is celebrating 25 years of business as a continuing care retirement community, Brintnall has spent almost that entire time treating it like his church, filled with all the highs and lows that come with being a preacher.

He's shared the joys of families as they celebrate together, and helped ease the pain of losses. He preaches four times every week -- twice on Sunday, twice on Wednesday. He's learned when to intervene and be a calming presence for someone who is agitated, and when to back off and let things be (usually during the bingo games).

"I feel like I've tried to provide a church for these people," Brintnall said. "Granted, they come to us from all denominations, so we're one of the most ecumenical groups in town. But I just preach the word. That's all I do."

Pat Lincoln, a founding member of the center's steering committee, said that Brintnall has a strong ability to spread hope, contentment and peace through the halls.

"He means a lot," Lincoln said. "Even though he's a licensed administrator, he considers this his ministry. I call him Ôthe glue.'"

Milestone

Spring River Christian Village opened 25 years ago last month and has grown into a center with a 120-bed nursing home, 80 assisted-living apartments, 46 independent living apartments and 34 duplexes, capable of housing 251 people. Managed by Christian Homes, Inc., the center is a faith-based nonprofit effort that has cared for thousands in its history.

Work to build the center began in the early '80s by Lincoln's husband, Roy, who was concerned about long-term care for his mother. The closest center that could provide what they needed was in Springfield.

"At the time there wasn't any place like this," Lincoln said. "Especially a continuing care retirement community. There wasn't that kind of thing, not enough for our population."

According to a press release from Christian Homes, Roy Lincoln contacted the corporation through a college friend, George Gahr, who happened to be CEO at the time. After initial feasibility studies proved positive, a steering committee was formed in 1984.

That started a long, challenging process of finding land and constructing buildings, as well as obtaining needed paperwork and necessary services. And funding -- lots of funding.

Those pieces came together slowly but surely, Lincoln said. The committee acquired 31 acres of land behind Northpark Mall, obtained a certificate of need from the state and drafted plans with the help of an architect who served on the committee.

"The pieces all fit together perfectly," Lincoln said. "I feel like the Lord had a hand in it all."

The committee broke ground in 1985, and the center was opened in 1988. Sen. Richard Webster and Gov. John Ashcroft spoke at a dedication ceremony for the center.

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