When Carolyn Byrd became director of senior adult ministries, she was asked to re-imagine or re-engineer, if you will, St. John’s programs for senior adults.
Of course, she couldn’t do it by herself. So Carolyn invited members 60 and above to an Adult Summit, held Feb. 4 in the fellowship hall. Judging by energy and positive feedback from the more than 75 folks who attended, it was a huge success.
Now, Carolyn is in the process of formulating and integrating all the wonderful ideas she received last month. A follow-up event is slated for 10 a.m. to noon April 21.
Carolyn assembled a wonderful team of helpers. Sharon Agee, Jane Britt, Cathy Eller and Sally Taylor did their usual fabulous job of decorating. Tables were adorned with memorabilia from the ’40s, ’50s, ’60s and ’70s. The ladies also prepared a delicious brunch.
Cyndi Osterhus, Jeanie Moore, Pastor Rhodes and Mike Agee helped Carolyn shape the summit’s direction, while Mike, Michael Connor, Tom Childress, Franco Goodman, Jeanie, Kimberly Lentz, Wayne Nelson and Catherine Soderburg served as table leaders for the brainstorming session.
Kent Bernhardt, local radio personality, got the morning going with some familiar songs from the 1960s, and Pastor Rhodes welcomed the gathering by noting that a “silver tsumani” is taking place as the number of senior adults will double during the next 20 to 30 years.
“It’s an incredible asset for us here at St. John’s,” Pastor Rhodes said. “Imagine a congregation where parents and grandparents and great-grandparents are all invested in the well-being of the youngest among us.”
However, Pastor Rhodes pointed out to the audience, “you are not just a statistic. You are a precious gift from God, to help us advance his kingdom in this place.”
God has always called those with wisdom, Pastor Rhodes said, Abraham and Sarah and the apostle Paul, among others. “When a bold step was needed, God first reached out to senior adults. You’re the wisest of anyone else around.”
So what does senior adult ministry at St. John’s look like today?
“We want to create an excellent, holistic ministry, to engage our senior adults spiritually, socially, academically, and as volunteers,” Pastor Rhodes said.
After Cyndi led the group in a fun warm-up exercise to greet one another using words such as “awesome,” “stupendous,” “marvelous” and “fantastic,” the group got down to the serious business of brainstorming.
Five categories of interest emerged: education, service, fellowship, health and travel.
At the follow-up in April, Carolyn will unveil details a new approach to senior adult ministry.
Meanwhile, summit attendees praised Carolyn and her team for the good first steps that emerged.
“I think this is one of the best things that’s happened for senior adults,” Bill Safrit said of the summit.
“I hope this level of enthusiasm will sustain itself,” Clancy Bostian added.
“I think it was great,” Pat Epting said. “The crowd just overwhelmed me. I’ve never seen this great or enthusiastic a turnout of folks.”
“The best part for me was to get to know people,” said Mary Picking, who joined St. John’s in 2012.
“It just further underscores the value of lifelong learning and building relationships,” said Jeanie, who recently retired from Rowan-Cabarrus Community College. “If you focus on relationships and meeting needs, great things can happen.”
“I thought it was a tremendous turnout,” Tom said. “Everybody got into the atmosphere of expressing ideas. I was so impressed with that enthusiasm. This was a major event for our church.”
By: Susan Shinn