May 19, 2017
For years, Lay Servants of the Elizabeth River District of The United Methodist Church have assisted in bringing the word of God to the ladies of the Lydia H. Roper Home. The house was built in 1921 as a home for widows of Confederate soldiers by John L. Roper, a former Union Army Captain. Mr. Roper built the home in honor of his wife, for whom it is named. The Roper family looked after the home’s affairs for over forty years when the community was given to Virginia United Methodist Homes in 1966 in exchange for the promise that VUMH would continue to operate preserving the original mission.
The benevolent cause behind the creation of the home, the team members that seem more like members of a family, and the incredible ladies that call it home leave a lasting impression on anyone that visits. One such individual is Arnie Lindblad. He visited the Roper Home 11 years ago and has been back the first Sunday of each month ever since.
Lindblad is no stranger to serving his community as he taught math and science in Chesapeake City Public Schools for 40 years and at Old Dominion University as an adjunct professor of education for 35 years. He has been a member of Hickory United Methodist Church for close to 20 years.
About 12 years ago, Lindblad heard the call to finish the Lay Servant courses he began 50 years prior. At the time, Johnnie Draughon was serving as Lay Servant Ministries Coordinator for the district. Draughon approached him about visiting a few places with him. One of those locations was the Roper Home. Lindblad instantly knew that he wanted to be involved with serving this group of ladies. After Draughon retired a few years later, Lindblad took over his role as District Coordinator of Lay Servant Ministries.
Over the past 11 years, he has participated in communion services at the Roper Home over 130 times, led special services like Ash Wednesday, attended resident birthday parties, special occasions and become part of the Roper Home family. The service is only 30 minutes long, but he stays to visit for an additional hour. His favorite part is talking to the ladies and reminiscing about their past. “The Roper home is a neat place with neat ladies,” Lindblad expressed. “I have Methodists, Baptists, Greek Orthodox and Catholics, but their denomination is never an issue.” The ladies are such a tight-knit community that they are able to amicably discuss their views and enjoy the learning experience.
Upon Lindblad’s recent retirement from serving as District Coordinator of Lay Servant Ministries in December 2016, he made an agreement with the new Coordinator that he would remain assigned to the Roper Home. Although he is stepping down from a leadership role, his love for the Roper Home keeps him from completely retiring.
Arnie Lindblad’s passion can be echoed in many other team members and volunteers throughout the years. A unique place like the Roper Home holds a special place in the hearts of those that have walked through its doors.