Pinegrove care home maintains Anabaptist values as demographics shift

June 15, 2023 | News | Volume 27 Issue 12
Andre Pekovich |
Pinegrove Place in Richmond, B.C. (Photo by Frank Dawson)

A little-known Mennonite mission, hidden away in a quiet residential neighbourhood on the flats of Richmond, B.C., celebrated its fortieth anniversary on June 7.

Pinegrove Place, a three-storey, 76-bed residential care home, was originally built as a joint project between Mennonite Brethren and General Conference Mennonite churches in the Greater Vancouver area in 1983 to house Mennonite residents who could no longer live safely at home but didn’t need the full services of an extended care facility.

Over the years, government funding models and the clientele Pinegrove serves have changed. From caring for mobile seniors who could no longer cook for themselves or clean their homes, Pinegrove now houses the elderly, disabled and those with medical conditions that prevent them from managing on their own.

Like most long-term care homes in B.C., access now is through the care registry maintained by Vancouver Coastal Health, which matches the neediest people with available beds in their area. As the population makeup of Richmond has changed, so too has the makeup of Pinegrove’s residents; many are now Asian or South Asian, and there are few Mennonites.

The spiritual dimension remains, however. Even while government funding for spiritual care vanished from ever-tightening budgets, Pinegrove always funded a chaplain for the facility, one who reached out across denominational divides. All are welcome to its services and devotions.

While not officially promoting Mennonite spiritual history, Anabaptist values nonetheless remain part of the teachings. Singing together is a main mover for those attending services. It’s surprising to hear so many stellar voices raised in praise as familiar hymns and praise songs ring out from residents who formerly spoke little and moved even less.

Asians of various denominations are some of the most devoted attenders of services. Pinegrove also reaches out to connect residents of other faiths, such as Sikhism and Judaism, with representatives of their faiths to help with spiritual care.

Pinegrove was an extension of the Vancouver housing project of Menno Court, a 170-unit low-income residence for seniors in East Vancouver. It was originally built to house Mennonites, particularly widows, whose means were limited in the days when pensions were not readily available and social assistance was frowned on.

Built by Mennonite builders and their crews, all drawn together under the leadership of Walter Goertz, the project was completed for $4 million, nearly 10 percent under budget. It drew many of its first staff and management from the Mennonite community. In its 40 years, Pinegrove has been led by Fred Hildebrand, Gordon Milner and now Lori Sidjak.

Pinegrove was initially accredited as part of the network of health care facilities in Richmond. When this group accreditation ended, Pinegrove decided to continue being accredited on its own. In the fall of 2022, Pinegrove was accredited with commendation, a stellar accomplishment for such a small facility.

The board has always maintained its connection with its Mennonite roots and strives to infuse Anabaptist values in all the work of care performed there. About half the board are from Mennonite Church B.C., and half Mennonite Brethren. The current chair is Lorna Goertz, daughter of Walter Goertz.

Pinegrove held a celebration on June 7 with its 76 residents and families, retired staff and board members, local politicians and community partners to mark 40 years of elder care taking place quietly in their community. 

Andre Pekovich is a board member of Pinegrove Place. If you are interested in volunteering at Pinegrove, contact

Pinegrove Place in Richmond, B.C. (Photo by Frank Dawson)

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