Guest speakers on the evening conference calls during the week each brought their own experience and expertise along with opportunities for participants to reflect together upon such topics as including seniors meaningfully in the worship life of a congregation, the benefits of intergenerational relationships and experiences, reaching out to seniors in the community to provide better support networks, the need for appropriate planning for end-of-life concerns, and changing relationships in families as loved ones age. The guest speakers were the Rev. Sharon Farral, associate pastor for Senior Care at the First Baptist Church of East Moline, Illinois; the Rev. Randy Fredrikson, chaplain at Trail Ridge Retirement Community in Sioux Falls, South Dakota; Mr. Stacey Lucich, estate planning attorney in Twin Falls, Idaho; and the Rev. Dr. Bobby Joe Saucer, author of the Judson Press publication Our Help in Ages Past: The Black Church’s Ministry among the Elderly (Judson Press, 2005).
“The undervalued and under-served critical mass of Black humanity in churches and church communities are the young, aging and the elderly. A partnership of commitment is required as the survival motif of our institutions and families. All ages have a stake in this partnership of survival and development. Our prayer is that this virtual mission encounter will remind us that we exist in connectivity and proximity, but we must learn to grow in sensitivity,” said the Rev. Dr. Bobby Joe Saucer.
Virginia Holmstrom, executive director of AB Women’s Ministries, noted the wide variety of life situations of persons participating in the virtual mission encounter. “Some were approaching the topic as adult children caring for aging parents; some were elders preparing to make informed end-of-life decisions; some brought poignant experiences from recent deaths of family members. All were encouraged to empower their congregations to develop support networks for seniors and their families.”
A virtual mission encounter is an online opportunity for women to learn more about a mission topic, explore its impact on their own communities as well as around the world, and find resources, ideas, and inspiration for advocacy and action. AB Women’s Ministries will be hosting two virtual mission encounters in 2014. For more information, visit www.abwministries.org.
American Baptist Women’s Ministries is a Christ-centered ministry with a commitment to encourage and empower women and girls to serve God. American Baptist Women in Ministry seeks the full participation and full partnership of men and women in ministry in which both women and men are able to fully utilize their God-given gifts and fully live out their God-given call.
American Baptist Churches is one of the most diverse Christian denominations today, with over 5,200 local congregations comprised of 1.3 million members, across the United States and Puerto Rico, all engaged in God’s mission around the world.