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Surrey Seniors Share Stories


Over 120 guests experienced a beautiful evening of stories and songs when a writing group at Elim Village, a seniors housing complex in Surrey, British Columbia, decided to share their latest project in a special way.

Fleetwood CRC exercise group performs a liturgical dance.

Pam De Jong

Writing group leader Maria Van Harten asked seniors to pen a short story about a song that was meaningful to them. Not surprisingly, since Van Harten and most of the members of the group attend Fleetwood Christian Reformed Church or other churches in Surrey, all of the songs were either traditional hymns or contemporary Christian music.

Ten writers chose to share their stories and songs at a gathering of family and friends. The stage was set to look like a living room complete with fireplace, an appropriately intimate setting given the breadth of emotions in the stories proclaiming God’s faithfulness in times of joy, sadness, illness, and change.

The stories and songs were displayed on a large screen so everyone could follow along. Individual writers chose how they wanted their song presented.

“We had a great variety of presentations: guitar, video, piano, organ. One person asked the audience to sing her song a cappella in Dutch, the way she heard her grandparents sing it together on an old tape,” Van Harten explained. The exercise group from Fleetwood CRC performed a liturgical dance routine for the last song, “Agnus Dei.”

“I chose to write about the song ‘Abide with Me’ because I had sung it so often to my wife, Grace, when the darkness of Alzheimer’s left no words to say,” said writer Gerry Hofstra.

“The combination of story and song unlocked significance, a depth, a surprising power that touched everyone in the audience in some way,” Van Harten added.

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