For seniors living in isolation and loneliness, things haven’t been “normal” for a long time. North Carolina Baptist Aging Ministry (NCBAM) held its annual State Leadership Conference on September 29 to explore a more inclusive model of ministry that offers greater connectedness and fosters spiritual growth while maintaining and growing relationships—even from home.
The event was live-streamed from Pritchard Memorial Baptist Church in Charlotte and is archived for viewing on NCBAM’s YouTube channel. Pritchard is home to Rev. Stan Heiser who chairs NCBAM’s AAIM leadership network (Aging Adults Innovating Ministry) and serves as minister to senior adults at Pritchard.
The conference featured three sessions: “The New Normal” by Whitney Brooks, NBC-HWC through Duke Integrative Medicine. Brooks examined how the Coronavirus pandemic had intensified another existing and ongoing epidemic for senior adults: loneliness and social isolation. She shared how the church can create a positive and effective “new normal,”—one that fosters genuine and meaningful connection, purpose, and well-being among seniors.
In “Communication Technology Ideas for COVID Times,” Dr. Don Gilbert, Care and Senior Adult Pastor at Bay Leaf Baptist Church in Raleigh, demonstrated some of the most common tools to help seniors maintain and grow relationships with their church, their family and their friends.
Dr. Gilbert not only demonstrated Facetime, Zoom, and Google Meet, he shared how these tools can effectively be used in church ministry to seniors.
Dr. Michael C. Blackwell, President/CEO Baptist Children’s Homes of North Carolina, presented the closing keynote address: “In Between Times.” Affectionately known as BCH’s “Chief Encouragement Officer,” Dr. Blackwell shared keys for staying strong in God during this Upside-Down time in world history.
He encouraged the practice of “patient persistence” and waiting on the Lord, listening to the Holy Spirit and never giving up. To know who you are and whose you are; to seize every opportunity to learn new things about yourself and about God; and (like Barnabas) to be the son or daughter of encouragement. Dr. Blackwell ended his session and the conference with this charge: “
This is a wonderful opportunity in your life to be who you were meant to be. We have accumulated wisdom and we need to share it with each other. The best is yet to be!”
On October 6, 8 and 15, NCBAM Regional Directors hosted four remote regional meetings as follow-ups to the State Leadership Conference. The groups discussed what senior ministry looks like during and after the COVID-19 pandemic. NCBAM regional directors shared practical tools and initiatives for helping senior adults to stay engaged, meaningfully connected, and spiritually fed.
The follow-up meetings were led by NCBAM regional directors Samantha Allred (north central), Robert Leonard (south central), Angie Gregg (west), and Yvetta Smith and Charity Johnson (east).
These events were produced by NCBAM’s leadership network, Aging Adults Innovating Ministry (AAIM). To learn more about AAIM, visit ncbam.org/aaim.
Article is written by Carol Layton, NCBAM Director of Communications and Administration