North Carolina Baptist Aging Ministry (NCBAM) hosted the inaugural Aging Adults Innovating Ministry (AAIM) event on May 7 in Thomasville. AAIM is a network of church staff and lay leaders with the ongoing mission to promote, equip and strengthen aging adult (senior adult) ministries across the state.
Dubbed the “AAIM Roundup,” the conference provided a fast-paced day of information and inspiration to more than 70 senior adult leaders. Michael C. Blackwell, president of Baptist Children’s Homes and NCBAM founder, said, “It was a great kick-off for the AAIM network. AAIM will be an innovative and much-needed resource for aging adult ministries in North Carolina.”
AAIM leaders were announced at the event. Stan Heiser, associate senior pastor at Pritchard Memorial Baptist Church, will serve as chair; Norma Melton of Buncombe Baptist Association will serve as vice-chair; Barbara Blood, senior adult leader at First Baptist Church Mt. Airy, will serve as secretary.
Regional team leaders include Glenn Davenport, chaplain for Cleveland Regional Medical Center and Shelby Police Department (west region); Christa Warise, minister of senior adults at College Park Baptist Winston-Salem (central region); and Phyllis Crane, senior adult minister at First Baptist Church in Clayton (east region). Three keynote speakers presented on “Vision, Value, and Varoom” in aging adult ministry. Sandy Gregory, director of NCBAM, led the day sharing his vision for the church to take advantage of the unprecedented opportunities of the “age wave.”
Stan Heiser believes churches will miss the boat if they don’t tap into the passion and potential of aging adults. “Baby boomers, who have always changed the world, will continue to do so as they change the way our culture relates to them. They will not do ‘old’ like previous generations. They want to be involved in long-range planning; they want to continue to grow and use their God-given talents.”
Blackwell closed the program with a call to action for aging adult leaders to take advantage of the unprecedented opportunities for outreach and evangelism that the coming age wave will provide. His marching orders: “Take with you a gritty spirit of persistence. Know that God has His hand on your shoulder and will speak to you as you serve.”
Two community representatives spoke on the importance of bringing health and safety information to aging adults. Linda Hunt from Novant Health encouraged leaders to connect with partners who can inform their senior groups about topics such as healthy living, safe driving, financial security and how to dialogue about aging issues with their children. Kelly Ransdell with the National Fire Protection Association discussed partnering with local officials in safety programs such as fall and fire-prevention, smoke alarm installation trainings, pill take-backs and NCBAM’s Red Bag program – a tool for medication management.
A panel discussion was facilitated by AAIM coordinator Jim Edminson. The four panelists were: Sharon Chilton Moser (volunteer opportunities with Baptist Men), Jack Causey (Christian spirituality), Gail Engle (fitness programs for seniors), and Dennis Streets (social service community partnerships).
Christa Warise led hymn singing with Randy Stewart on keyboard. Kristin Boyle sang and provided entertainment on her acoustic guitar. Another statewide roundup is slated for May 5, 2016, in Thomasville.
Regional leaders will hold AAIM gatherings as follows: Central region, Sept. 15 in Thomasville; East region, Sept. 15 in Clayton; and West region, Sept. 22 in Asheville.