Judy and Russ Weaver had the kind of meet-cute romance that if put on the big-screen would star Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks. Theirs was a match made in literal heaven, the kind of relationship that brings joy to those who are lucky enough to fall within their sphere.
And then in the fall of 2011, Judy started slurring her words. It was miniscule at first, only noticeable by those who knew her best, but it was alarming enough in its progression that Russ and Judy began to seek answers, first from one doctor and then the next. By August 2012, they got the difficult diagnosis of ALS, and Russ began the brutal and beautiful journey of walking Judy Home.
Along the way, they learned many things about choosing to live each day, even while one’s body might say otherwise. For the Weavers, that meant continuing to stay active in their beloved University church choir, it meant continuing to be present with their church family whenever possible.
But by late 2013, physically going to church proved too difficult for Judy, and the ability to livestream worship, to hear her choir family sing and worship with her church, became essential. So when the weekly livestream didn’t work or the sound was spotty, it was devastating in a way that only those who have walked this hard road can understand. Seeing her friends faces, listening to her congregation worship, being fed by her pastors, these were lifelines for Judy, and Russ became determined to make livestream a reliable way for his wife, and anyone else who might need it, to worship.
Russ spearheaded a campaign to upgrade the equipment and software that makes our livestream reliable. Their choir family jumped on board enthusiastically, and it wasn’t long before the project was fully funded, the necessary items purchased, and multiple Sunday morning worship services were consistently streamed.
Judy passed on January 1, 2015. Russ continued to stay active in our music ministry, relying on the patterns of life that he had established with Judy to keep him moving each day.
Some time later, Pastor Holly Wilson came to help lead our congregation in the area of Care and Community, and feeling a kindred spirit in her, Russ sought Holly out. Turns out Holly had heard about Russ, and the passion he had for helping those that needed to be able to worship from home to do so. Holly had an idea to further that hope for home-worship and thought that Russ might be just the person to help her implement this new initiative.
Pastor Holly asked Russ if he had ever considered Homebound Communion—the delivering and serving of blessed elements to those that can not be present in worship. Russ says that he had not really considered it for Judy because from the beginning of her diagnosis, swallowing had been difficult, but when he looked back over their years of mutual church work, some of his fondest memories revolved around serving communion together. He knew that this opportunity was a way to honor his wife and their life together as well as continue to serve the population of home-worshippers that he had become passionate about serving.
Russ joyfully agreed to serve as the coordinator for this new ministry to the homebound. He knew that God had matched his passion with God’s kingdom plan. Together, he and Holly began recruiting, planning, and training teams of two to monthly administer communion to those that could not be in worship. By May of 2017, the first groups were visiting and serving communion, usually on the first Sunday of the month, to those that requested this service. The teams visit with and serve communion to the individual who is homebound as well as to any family members present that also request to take communion. In hopes of establishing caring relationships, teams serve the same person or family each month, with anywhere from 10 to 22 visits happening monthly.
Russ says that all involved in this ministry have expressed incredible joy as a result of their participation: “When God is doing something so powerful, so full of blessing, and you’re that close to it and get to see it, it feels pretty good. You can’t help but feel like you are seeing God at work in each person and place.”
To be trained to be a part of the Homebound Communion ministry team, contact Russ Weaver, , or Pastor Holly Wilson, To be added to the list to receive home communion, please contact Debbie Snider,