METHUEN ֱ For Auntie Ruth, the song of hymns and gospels are forever ingrained in her mind ֱ and her body ֱ as she moves to the beat and taps her foot to the music.

In her red woven hat with black veil and white flowers as well as petite black gloves, Ruth Rogers, 103, returned to the church she helped to found in the 1940s, Methuenֱs Riverside Assembly of God.

The Pentecostal church originally met in the function room above a bar on Essex Street in Lawrence. Now, the church building stands in Methuen, marking the first Assembly of God church in the Merrimack Valley, according to the Rev. Dan Stanley, who has led the church for over a decade now.

Rogersֱ sister, Helen Wight, and brother-in-law William worked to bring the church to the community. Auntie Ruth and her brother, Brother Joe, worked to ensure the mission continued.

ֱHer, her sister and her brother have been such a blessing to this community,ֱ said Narda Berrios, who has been a part of the church for over 30 years. ֱIt didnֱt matter what you were going through. They brought such peace.ֱ

Church members like Mark Baldwin, said Rogers was a real auntie to the community, not just in formality.

Auntie Ruth, who now lives in Prescott House in North Andover, was able to return to her Methuen church as a final prayer on Sunday thanks to Compassus, a North Andover-based hospice organization.

ֱIf I can make someoneֱs last wish happen, Iֱll be there,ֱ said volunteer Jinett Rodriguez. ֱI love what I do.ֱ

Rodriguez and Rogers were joined by multiple other volunteers and care workers. Kim Iannacci, the Compassus volunteer coordinator, even brought her own grandmotherֱs mink shawl for Auntie Ruth to wear to church.

ֱWhen I grow up I want to be like Ruth,ֱ said Jackie Ulbin, who visits Rogers weekly. ֱTo be able to come to a place she started, Iֱm sure sheֱs thrilled. Iֱm in awe of this woman.ֱ

Rogers had many trinkets to remind her of her younger years. Ruthֱs brother-in-law made the pulpit that Stanley uses in his services today.

ֱEvery time that Iֱm able to take hold of that, I think of the history that comes before me,ֱ Stanley said. ֱItֱs exciting to thing to think Iֱm part of the continuation.ֱ

A teapot and tea cozy, with a pink and purple crochet design, waited for Rogers after services were over. They are the same items congregation members would partake in with Auntie Ruth when they visited her home.

Rogers said she would pray with members when they visited.

Auntie Ruth also ran the Sunday school, according to one of her students, Ann Marie Arsenault. Arsenault said she keeps returning to the church, carrying on the lessons Rogers taught her.

Stanley made sure the Riverside Assembly of God members sang ֱsongs of yesterdayֱ so Rogers would remember. She tapped her foot along while other congregation members danced and their open hands up toward the heavens.

ֱThe connection that I have with other people in the church is a way that itֱs expressed, loving each other,ֱ Stanley said. ֱIt is a connection of Christians that goes back for 2,000 years.ֱ

Stanley said he is able to continue to pass down a tradition with youngest members of the Riverside Assembly of God community, connecting each person back to Auntie Ruth and other generations of Christians in the past.

Stanley played the piano and sang with an abundance of reverence and heart throughout the service. Frank Rubino accompanied on drums. and Auntie Ruth happily sang along to verses like ֱglory is his name,ֱ remembering each lyric by heart.

ֱDear Lord, I pray that you bless and help everyone of them,ֱ Rogers said, ending the day with a prayer, ֱand that they will be blessings to everyone and themselves.ֱ

Follow Monica on Twitter at @MonicaSager3

Follow Monica on Twitter at @MonicaSager3

Trending Video

Recommended for you