Parkville, Maryland—April 24 will be remembered fondly by those who live and work at Oak Crest. In these COVID-19 times, the senior living community managed by Erickson Living hosted its first socially-distanced wedding.
Residents Daniel Kott and Helen Baker celebrated their love, making it official during a ceremony in the community's chapel. Appropriate for the times, the occasion was intimate. A party of five gathered in the venue meant for 350, complete with social distancing and cloth face coverings.
The Reverend Emily C. Holman, a deacon with the Episcopal Church and a fellow resident of Oak Crest, presided. Jane Beers, a pastoral associate at Oak Crest, read scripture, and Jeff Getek, regional communications manager, served as photographer.
As Deacon Holman keenly observed in her sermon, "…in this time when people are trying to stay apart, Dan and Helen are trying to come together."
Dan, a retired programming analyst, and Helen, a former school teacher, live in one of the community's independent living neighborhoods. As Deacon Holman wrote: "In November 2018, Helen had just moved to Oak Crest. She was taking a walk through the complex, and found someone she knew, Natalie Freeman, the organist at her church, playing the piano in the Town Center lobby. The only place to sit was on a sofa next to Dan. When the music was over, Helen and Dan started talking. They haven't stopped, and have been together ever since." News of the impending nuptials inspired employees to contribute. A team from Erickson Living, the developer and manager of Oak Crest, provided a lovely bouquet for the bride and a matching boutonniere for the groom. The culinary professionals of Oak Crest delivered a wedding cake and bottle of champagne to the newlyweds. And members of the Resident Life Department decorated their apartment home door.
In the cloud of COVID-19, Daniel and Helen provided a majestic silver lining.
Deacon Holman was kind enough to share her beautiful sermon for all to enjoy. Here are excerpts:
These are strange, unprecedented times. The easily-spread Corona virus COVID-19 is causing everyone to stay away from each other. We are required here at Oak Crest, and throughout the state of Maryland, and even throughout the entire country, to stay in our apartments and homes, to only go out in emergencies. Many activities have been cancelled. But in this time when people are trying to stay apart, Dan and Helen are trying to come together.
They had set the date of May 2 for their marriage, with their Methodist minister and all their family coming for the ceremony and reception. It had to be cancelled because visitors can't come on campus.
But Dan and Helen were still eager to be together, married. They acquired the essential marriage license in mid-March before all "non-essential" services were shut down. They found a licensed, ordained clergy person on the Oak Crest campus – me, a Deacon in the Episcopal Church – and asked permission from Oak Crest to open a space. So here we are, compassionately distancing, in our Oak Crest Chapel, with just five people to participate and witness. With Dan and Helen's patient persistence we are making it happen.
In November 2018 Helen had just moved in to Oak Crest. She was taking a walk through the complex, and found someone she knew, Natalie Freeman, the organist at her church, playing the piano in the Town Center lobby. The only place to sit was on a sofa next to Dan. When the music was over, Helen and Dan started talking. They haven't stopped, and have been together ever since. Helen and Dan seem to know what love is all about.
Sermon courtesy of The Rev. Emily C. Holman, Deacon
About Oak Crest: Oak Crest, one of 20 continuing care retirement communities developed and managed by Erickson Living®, is situated on a scenic 87-acre campus in Parkville, Maryland. The not-for-profit community of more than 2,100 residents and 1,250 employees is governed by its own board of directors, affiliated with National Senior Campuses, who provide independent financial and operational oversight of Oak Crest. Additional information can be found at OakCrestCommunity.com.