The genesis of Southminster is a rather incredible story. Two long-standing churches in Charlotte, Christ Episcopal and Myers Park Baptist joined together to successfully launch a premier ecumenical, non-profit, retirement community. After years of research, planning, and the generous contributions of many, in 1987, the “impossible dream” became a reality with the ribbon cutting of what was considered at the time one of the most upscale retirement communities in the nation. The community was an immediate success meeting pent-up demand. Now as an independent 501c(3) organization governed by a board of directors comprised of community and civic leaders, Southminster has been a stable example for over 30 years of responsible stewardship and ministry. Books could be written full of wonderful stories of multiple generations of residents creating memories, forging lifelong friendships, and living full and productive lives.

With Southminster’s recent expansion and renovations, Southminster continues to meet the needs of its residents and those yet to come. With high-demand, larger, more spacious homes, a modern fitness center (with indoor pool), and unparalleled amenities, Southminster continues to set the bar for what retirement living should be. Offering a full continuum of care and a commitment to the highest level of service, Southminster continues the tradition of defining the exceptional retirement experience.

Southminster is a member in good standing with Leading Age, formerly known as the American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging (AAHSA) and its state chapter, the North Carolina Association of Non-Profit Homes for the Aging (NCANPHA). Southminster is fully licensed by the North Carolina Department of Insurance and North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.

If you are interested in learning more, call to schedule your visit to Southminster and learn how you can enjoy a retirement lifestyle full of choices and possibilities.

Our Mission


Southminster is a non-profit, charitable community that embraces the individual by fostering a quality of life characterized by choice, independence, well-being, spirituality, dignity, privacy, and peace of mind for each person.


Founded with pride in 1987 by two local churches, Southminster has become the premier non-profit retirement community in the Charlotte area. We serve a vibrant community of residents and others who are living lives to the fullest. With a respected and highly capable staff, Southminster provides the highest quality healthcare, services and programming. Recognizing the uniqueness of every person, we are seen as a national leader in care for the aging. We reach out to those in the community and help them throughout the transition of aging. For many, this includes a physical move to Southminster. We continually update our services and residences so that they are the most attractive in the region. We embrace change, diversity and technology to improve the lives of our residents and others we serve. We have a strong financial foundation which we are continually improving. Southminster is seen as a leader in giving back to the community through its many partnerships and other charitable activities.


  • Community
  • Southminster residents and others we serve live their lives to the fullest in a collaborative atmosphere of mutual respect, compassion and trust.
  • Excellence
    Our leadership and staff have a professional dedication to excel at everything they do, knowing such efforts will improve the lives of our residents and others we serve.
  • Integrity
    Our community of staff, residents and others we serve strive for the highest levels of ethical behavior, financial responsibility, fair practices and accountability.
  • Respect for the Individual
    Because every individual is unique, Southminster strives to help each resident and others we serve to maximize their independence and well-being.
  • Charity and Outreach
    Southminster provides residents peace-of-mind so that they can continue to live a dignified life should unforeseen circumstances cause them to outlive their assets. Additionally, Southminster is dedicated to making a difference in the broader Charlotte community through its charitable work and donations.

Our Leadership



Our Board reflects an exceptional blend of experience and foresight who serve without compensation to ensure Southminster provides an excellent quality of life for our residents.

Back Row (left to right): Dr. Paul Tolmie, Mr. Allen Robertson, Rev. Joseph Aldrich, Mrs. Susan Salvin, Mr. Joseph Kluttz, Rev. Robin Coira, Mrs. Tere Ey, Rev. Lisa Saunders, Mr. John Wyatt, Mr. Richard “Dick” Brigden, and Mr. Jay Rivers

Seated (left to right): Mr. H. Tate Bowers, Mr. Gene King, Mrs. Hope Parrott, Mr. R. Stuart Dickson, and Mr. Richard “Dick” Welch

Not Pictured: Mr. Charles H. Conner, Jr. and Mr. Robert Thomason


Back Row (left to right): Ben Gilchrist, Donna Peters, Mary Cooper, Stewart Wiley

Seated (left to right): Salem Suber, Kendra Laughey, Lisa McClellan, Tracy McGinnis


Chief Operating Officer
Mary is a seasoned professional in the field of aging services for over 30 years with more than 20 of those years at Southminster. Mary began her career at Southminster as the Director of Nursing with certifications in geriatric nursing and culture change. Prior to being promoted to the COO position, Mary held the title of Director of Health and Wellness and Administrator of Record for Southminster’s Embrace Health. Her responsibilities included all areas of Health and Wellness operations including Nursing, Resident and Family Life, Embrace Care, Life Enrichment, the Wellness Clinic and Wellness/Fitness. As COO Mary now oversees all areas of operations including Embrace Health, Embrace Care, Environmental Services and Culinary Services as well as the development of all policies and programs related to service delivery.


President, Chief Executive Officer and Executive Director
Mr. Gilchrist has extensive experience working with non-profit retirement communities, as well as for-profit skilled nursing providers.  Prior to being appointed as CEO at Southminster, Mr. Gilchrist served for seven years as Vice President of Operations at Friendship Senior Options, a non-profit provider of senior services and housing in Illinois. Prior to that Mr. Gilchrist served as President of Springfield Masonic Home, a non-profit CCRC in Springfield, OH and Vice President of Operations for Vrable Health Care Company in Columbus, OH, a for-profit provider of skilled nursing. Prior to that position he served as Vice President of Health Care and Community Based Services at Maple Knoll Communities in Springdale, OH, a non-profit provider of senior services and housing. Mr. Gilchrist is a licensed Nursing Home Administrator in Ohio and served on the board of LeadingAge Illinois. He has a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Business Administration from Bowling Green State University, and a Masters Degree in Business Administration in Applied Management from Indiana Wesleyan University.


Chief Financial Officer
Kenda is a Certified Public Accountant having joined Southminster after a successful 10-year career with Deloitte & Touche.  With Deloitte & Touche, she was an Audit Senior Manager focused on health care providers. Kenda  graduated from the University of South Carolina where she earned a Bachelor of Science & Business Administration degree and a Master of Accountancy degree.


Director of Human Resources
Lisa enjoys over 20 years’ experience in associate relations, training/development, recruiting, benefits and compensation management.  Prior to joining Southminster, Lisa was in human resource management with Arbor Acres, a continuing care retirement community located in Winston Salem. Earlier experience includes human resource positions with Honda of America, Visa USA, and Sunrise Medical.  A graduate of Longwood College, with a BS in Sociology and Business, Lisa has earned additional certifications in Human Resources Management and Career Architect Training and Development and is a member of the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM). She is also successfully graduated from the Disney school’s course on leadership and management.


Director of Philanthropy
Tracy has held this newly created role since February, 2014. Prior to joining the senior leadership team at Southminster, Tracy led business development efforts in North and South Carolina in independent living, assisted living, and specialized memory care.  Tracy earned a BA in Communications/Journalism and is a published writer with both local and national publications on a variety of topics. She completed her graduate work in the field of Gerontology and was inducted into the Sigma Phi Omega Honor Society with the Gerontological Society of America. Tracy currently serves on the board of directors for the Shepherd’s Center, Council on Aging, Volunteer Transportation Services and is a certified Dementia specialist through the Arnold School of Public Health at the University of South Carolina.  Tracy’s current efforts include expanding Southminster’s philanthropic mission by building community partnerships that focus on education, cultural arts and healthy community initiatives.


Executive Assistant
Donna joined the Southminster team in 2001. She works with residents, family members, Board members, senior managers, and employees to provide assistance to the Executive Director in areas related to community management. Donna has worked in the field of senior healthcare and senior living since 1990. She has an undergraduate degree in Sociology from Chatham College in Pittsburgh.


Director of Culinary Services
Salem is a Charlotte native with 20 years of experience owning and managing restaurants. He has strong skills in the areas of developing and managing budgets, team building and marketing. Salem is passionate about providing quality dining experiences for his guests and supportive work environments for his employees. He is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.


Director of Sales & Marketing
Stewart joined Southminster in February 2012, first as a marketing consultant and, today, as its Director of Sales and Marketing. Stewart enjoys over 30 years experience in both the corporate and non-profit sectors that includes directing the sales and marketing efforts of a multi-site developer of continuing care retirement communities; directing the advancement efforts of two prestigious K-12 independent private schools; serving as a national sales executive for a developer of medical information software; and consulting with hospitals on the successful integration of management and physician practices. Stewart is experienced at leading the marketing efforts and advancing the sales initiatives of expanding companies on the threshold of leading their industries. Stewart is a graduate of the The Terry Business College of the University of Georgia.

Frequently Asked Questions


What is a Life Plan?
Life Plan Communities emphasize lifelong learning, personal growth, wellness, and well-being while offering a full continuum of care. Residents benefit from a fulfilling lifestyle and enjoy peace of mind knowing that their future health needs will be met without having to relocate outside the community.
What is “maintenance-free living?
Basically, it’s life without worrying about the upkeep and mainteance of a house. That means all exterior, interior, and appliance maintenance, as well as groundskeeping, grass cutting and leaf removal are included in your monthly fee. The fees also provide for trash removal, scheduled transportation, security personnel, and the emergency call system.
What fees are associated with living at Southminster?
There are primarily two fees, a one-time Entrance Fee, and an ongoing Monthly Service Fee.  The Entrance Fee assures you a residence at Southminster for the balance of your life whether one lives independently or in our health area.  Both “standard” and “refundable” entry fee options are available.  The Monthly Service Fee covers the monthly expenses associated with you living at Southminster including utilities, housekeeping, maintenance, the meal plan, use of the wellness center, and many of our activities.
Are any of the fees associated with living at Southminster tax-deductible?
Yes. Current IRS rules allow a portion of your monthly service fee and entrance fee (in the year paid) to be considered as a pre-paid medical expense.  This amount may be added to your overall medical expenses and, to the extent then that your total medical expenses are deductible, it may offer you a tax advantage.  Charges related to health services received through Embrace Care or Embrace Health are also allowable as medical expenses.  Early each year, you will recieve a letter from Southminster’s independent auditors notifying you of the amounts determined acceptable as a pre-paid medical expense.  As with any item related to your tax situation, we recommend that you consult with your tax advisor.
What happens if my health status changes?
One of the most important benefits of Southminster is the access to a variety of health services. No matter what your needs are, we’ve got the capacity to meet them on every level.  At Southminster, you’ll have the security of a full continuum of care that includes home care, assisted living, memory support, skilled nursing, and physical rehabilitation.
How will I know when I am ready to move to a retirement community?
Obviously, making the move to a retirement community is a personal decision that needs to be made by every individual. We suggest that people move while they are physically capable of making a move and mentally able to enjoy the lifestyle here at Southminster.
May I customize my cottage or apartment?
We encourage all of our residents to create their own ideal living space – we can even help you with the planning and execution. Depending on the extent of your renovations, you may have to get written approval before you begin. Of course, you’ll be responsible for all the costs associated with your improvements or modifications. Ownership of the addition or change automatically accrues to Southminster.
Is additional storage space to apartments available?
Yes, each apartment has an additional storage area located off one of the residence halls.
Will I pay real-estate taxes or need to carry home insurance?
You will not pay any real estate taxes associated with your residence at Southminster. As for insurance, we recommend renters policy as well as a $500,000 personal liability coverage to protect the contents of your residence.
Do I have to be affiliated with one of the sponsoring churches to live at Southminster?
Definitely not! Southminster reaches out to people from all walks of life, and all faiths, and encourages them to become a part of our community.
Are pets welcome at Southminster?
Yes, we welcome your well-behaved cat or dog.  There is a small one-time pet deposit required.
How many vehicles may I bring?
Most of our residents who drive bring their cars, although couples often find they can easily get along with only one. However, if driving is one of the things you choose to leave behind, we provide medical transportation and scheduled transportation to area shopping and Southminster off-site events.
Will it be difficult to meet new people at Southminster?
At Southminster we have an environment that encourages social interaction and an authentic sense of community.
May I still work while living at Southminster?
Absolutely! We have accomplished professionals living at Southminster who continue to enjoy and excel in their careers. Others choose to apply their experience and skills serving on boards and committees here on campus or in the greater Charlotte area. Walking around the property, there’s a good chance you’ll run into some of the business and philanthropic leaders who built and continue to shape the greater Charlotte area.
Who decides when a resident must move permanently to either assisted living or skilled nursing?
The decision is a collaborative effort involving the resident, the family, the resident’s physician, and the Health and Wellness Team.
Do residents have a voice in the operation of Southminster?
Absolutely. The residents appoint a Mayor to serve as their representative in regular meetings with the Southminster management and board. There are also over 20 resident committees that help shape the daily goings on at Southminster ranging from a budget review committee to a communications committee.