It isn’t often one is asked to create something from nothing. But, that’s exactly how North Carolina Baptist Aging Ministry (NCBAM) began in 2009.
Milton A. Hollifield Jr., executive director-treasurer of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina, “laid it on the heart” of Michael C. Blackwell to create a non-residential ministry to older adults. Hollifield called Blackwell “the trusted source” in North Carolina Baptist life and said if anyone could create such a new and creative ministry – with broad-based support – it would be the long-time president of the Baptist Children’s Homes (BCH).
Blackwell accepted the challenge and assembled a blue-ribbon committee of experts in all matters relating to aging adults – legal, medical, religious, psychological, social and other challenges associated with the frail elderly.
“The Lord has provided excellent staff and has consistently opened doors for new programs and partnerships at just the right moment,” Blackwell said. “In the next 10 years, as Baby Boomers continue to retire and need help maintaining their independence, NCBAM and North Carolina Baptists will be ready!”
Then, as now, BCH was a leader in developing family-focused Christian ministries. In addition to residential care for children, the ministry has established a Christian-focused day care, wilderness programs for boys and girls, a ministry for developmentally disabled adults, a family care ministry for single moms and their children, college campus ministries and an orphanage in Guatemala. In further fulfillment of BCH’s calling to serve all of God’s children, NCBAM was born.
Blackwell chose Sandy C. Gregory to serve as director. At that time, Gregory was serving as south central director of development for BCH and had education and experience working in senior adult ministry.
Blackwell connected Gregory with Bobby Boyd, then president of the BCH Board of Trustees and a retired director of Catawba County Social Services with 35 years’ experience.
Gregory and Boyd spent the first year in research.
With a mission statement in place (“to help individuals 65+ maintain their independence”), NCBAM began a three-month pilot program with the Liberty Baptist Association. Working with Mike Ester, director of missions, NCBAM identified resources, established partnerships with existing services, and met individuals with needs.
Since 2009, NCBAM’s Call Center has received more than 25,000 calls, served 4,000 individuals, met needs in all 100 counties, facilitated 33,000 volunteer hours, and set the world’s record for the most wheelchair ramps built in one day (321).
NCBAM currently has six regional directors who work throughout the state developing partnerships with churches and within the aging services network.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Carol Layton serves as director of communications and administration for NCBAM.)