JACKSONVILLE — The North Carolina Baptist Aging Ministry (NCBAM) has awarded its first grant to help Brookwood Baptist Church’s expanding ministry to senior adults in Jacksonville.
Leadership of the recently established NCBAM considers it a priority to assist a church’s efforts to develop new programs and outreach to the aging.
“We are excited about Brookwood Baptist Church’s enthusiasm and focus to grow its ministry and provide new programs to the aging population,” said Michael C. Blackwell, president of Baptist Children’s Homes of North Carolina, the umbrella organization for NCBAM.
“We want to be a part of their expansion efforts. The church’s intentions are directly in-line with the mission of NCBAM,” said Blackwell.
NCBAM grant recipients, such as churches and associations of churches, will help aging adults maintain their independence and quality of life.
The ministry focuses on providing information and referrals, on connecting the aging and their families with resources to meet needs, and on coordinating practical ministries.
A rigorous application and screening process is part of the grant process.
Brookwood Baptist, with a 15-year history of serving senior adults in Jacksonville, will use the $10,000 grant to create outreach for senior adults through its new program named “Senior-versity.”
Senior-versity will offer classes and service opportunities for aging adults across Onslow County.
Classes include short-term academic, crafts, gardening, biblical study, health and fitness and a variety of other activities. Through the new program, the church will partner with NCBAM and hopes to work in tandem with the New River Baptist Association in Jacksonville and other area churches to expand the outreach.
“We are very excited about the partnership with NCBAM,” said Brookwood Baptist Church senior pastor David Gasperson.
“We wish to develop new programs that will address unmet needs of seniors, or readdress the way we currently meet needs, that exhibits God’s love.”
“Senior-versity is a concept that will allow us to accomplish these goals and provide partnership opportunities with other churches in our Baptist association as well as other organizations,” Gasperson said.
This summer, the church is working with the music department at East Carolina University to conduct a 16-week research study. As many as 70 area seniors will study a musical instrument to research the effect of music training on the aging.
“The keys are addressing needs by implementing dynamic ideas and programs and then partnering with churches and organizations to undertake and enhance their own ministries,” Blackwell said. “If NCBAM can undergird more churches, such as Brookwood Baptist, we can begin building a statewide network to support and meet the needs of the aging population.”
NCBAM’s leadership is focused on efforts to expand its network of ministry. The Baptist State Convention of North Carolina’s executive director-treasurer Milton A. Hollifield, Jr. believes Brookwood Baptist Church is the right place to begin.
“David Gasperson and the entire congregation possess a passion and resolve to serve senior adults in need,” Hollifield said.
“This grant is a compassionate provision from the churches of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina and is given in gratitude for all that this congregation has done and will do to advance senior adult ministry in the years to come.”