When the church prayed, helped and assisted one couple with taking care of parents, “they shined a light on our routine that was unbelievably bright,” said Allan Blume.
Allan Blume, Biblical Recorder editor/president, shares his experience giving care to his wife’s parents with the Aging Adults Innovating Ministry (AAIM) Roundup May 2. AAIM is an outreach of the North Carolina Baptist Aging Ministry.
Blume, Biblical Recorder editor/president, served as keynote speaker for the third annual Aging Adults Innovating Ministry (AAIM) Roundup May 2 in Thomasville. AAIM, an outreach of North Carolina Baptist Aging Ministry (NCBAM), is a network of ministers and lay leaders who plan the annual roundup and the fall regional gatherings in order to strengthen and equip aging adult ministries.
Titled “The Family of God,” this year’s AAIM Roundup focused on the special needs of caregivers and the role of the church in supporting them. Following four early-bird sessions, the agenda included two caregiving-focused addresses, special music and opportunities to visit with select vendors and a “parade of churches.” Exhibiting churches shared innovative ways they are helping frail aging adults and their caregivers.
Blume, who has also pastored three North Carolina Baptist churches, focused on why churches should support aging adults and their caregivers.
Beginning with the demographic and cultural shifts occurring as the aging population booms, Blume suggested it is time for the church to intentionally adjust to these shifts and realize the immense value of senior adults as well as ways to help those in need.
Using Jesus’ first sermon, Blume explained why this intentional focus should take place. “We have not been given a hard assignment. We are told we have been made to be salt and light. Now it’s up to us to invade the darkness.”
Blume detailed how Baptists have been at the forefront of defending religious liberties as well as great influencers of politics, families, law and art.
“As we have been salt and light in other ways, let’s be on the front line of ministry to aging adults. People are asking, ‘Where is God?’ God has promised that the way he puts His presence in the world is through the New Testament church.”
Blume also shared his personal experiences with caregiving as he and his wife, Pam, cared for her parents. “A lot of people made a big difference for us. Our church family saw our need and helped.”
Beth Harris, a pastor’s wife, wove a thread of the three gifts she experienced during her caregiving years: the grace-filled gift of laughter, the necessary gift of truth and the greatest gift of love. Harris eloquently shared her experiences to encourage other caregivers in the invaluable work they are doing.
The closing address was given by Beth Harris. A minister’s wife for 28 years, Harris has also served on the boards of Salem Pregnancy Support Center and the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention.
Harris has also walked the caregiver’s journey. Her closing address was a moving recollection of her years of struggle, triumph and sanctification as a caregiver. Her husband, Mark, is the pastor of First Baptist Church in Charlotte.
Throughout her address, Harris wove a thread of the three gifts she experienced during her caregiving years: the grace-filled gift of laughter, the necessary gift of truth and the greatest gift of love. Harris eloquently shared her experiences to encourage other caregivers in the invaluable work they are doing.
Harris also gave a soul cry to the church to be aware of the stresses and challenges experienced by caregivers. “I want churches to know that caregivers are at places where they don’t think they can go on one more day. They desperately need respite. They need to be encouraged by God’s truth that He will not forget their labors of love. They need to be told, ‘I see God working in you; I see God glorified in you.’”
Uplifting music was woven throughout the event. Randy Stewart, pastor of Mills Home Baptist Church in Thomasville, played keyboard during registration and the lunch hour and also accompanied soloist Roberta Edwards. Dennis Streets, executive director of Chatham County Council on Aging, brought the Council’s 30-member Choral Group who kicked off the event with spirited hymns.
The Parade of Churches included displays from the following: Woodlawn Baptist Church in Conover (Care Team Ministry and Resources), First Baptist Church Mount Airy (Friends Helping Seniors), Centenary United Methodist Church in Winston-Salem (Adult Day Respite) and Central Baptist Church in Kannapolis (Grief Share and The White Rose Ministry).
AAIM Roundup vendors included the Seniors’ Health Insurance Information Program (SHIIP), Powerful Tools for Caregivers, Baptists on Mission, Palliative and Hospice Care, Healthy Living, LifeSpan Respite, FaithHealth, Caraway Conference Center and Camp, nc4A, Transitions LifeCare, LifeWay Christian Store and NCBAM.
Four early-bird sessions were held at 9 a.m. to allow those in closer proximity to Thomasville to experience more of the event. Beth Harris offered “Managing the Long Goodbye: Caregiving through the stages of Alzheimer’s disease.” Chris Schofield, director of the Office of Prayer for Evangelization and Spiritual Awakening at the Baptist State Convention offered “Kingdom Prayer and Senior Adults.” Carolyn Hill, retired nursing home administrator and senior adult retreat leader offered “Caregiver Support from the Church – when dementia is a diagnosis.” NCBAM’s regional directors Martha McDowell (north central) and Debra Kuykendall (central west) offered “Help for the Journey: how NCBAM can help.”
The Roundup was hosted by Rich Fork Baptist Church in Thomasville. More than 150 senior adult ministers, lay leaders and church members were in attendance. Phyllis Crane, senior adult minister at First Baptist Church in Clayton, valued the mix of spiritual encouragement and community resources. “The statewide resources were very helpful. It’s great to have something tangible as well as spiritual to take back to the seniors in my church.”
Charles McKinney, minister of senior adults at First Baptist Church in Jacksonville, says he is already looking forward to next year’s conference. “The AAIM Roundup was informing, inspiring and educational, all in one. The vendors provided needed resources for those looking for direction in second half ministries. The location and speakers were phenomenal.”
AAIM Chair Stan Heiser, associate pastor at Pritchard Memorial Baptist Church in Charlotte, served as master of ceremonies.
Michael Blackwell, president/CEO of Baptist Children’s Homes and founder of NCBAM greeted attendees and introduced the keynote speaker.
Members of the AAIM Leadership Board are: Heiser, Co-Chair, Norma Melton; secretary, Barbara Blood; Eastern area leaders Phil and Phyllis Crane; Central area leader Christa Warise; and Western area leader Glenn Davenport.
Regional AAIM events are planned for this Fall. Eastern area: First Baptist Church Rocky Mount, Sept. 25, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Central area: NCBAM, Oct. 17, 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Western area: Buncombe Baptist Association, Oct. 19, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. For more information, call NCBAM at (877) 506-2226.