By Ronald Hopkins (D. Min. ‘09)
Several years ago I took a continuing education course on “Older and Aging Adults” – the persons who attend and financially support most of our churches regardless of denomination. The pastor teaching the course, The Rev. Dr. Richard H. Gentzler, former Director of the Center on Aging and Older Adult Ministries of the United Methodist Church, was retiring from the ministry after this course. I was intrigued with the subject matter and his presentation.
At that time I was in my 11th year of serving the same congregation and began to realize that a new calling and opportunity was staring me in the face. My present congregation’s average age was 73, counting children and young adults 30 and above. As I was completing the course, my heart told me, perhaps, I needed to learn more; so I inquired of the staff at Union Presbyterian Seminary if this was something the Presbyterian Church was also doing, and was introduced to the Presbyterian Older Adult Ministry Network (POAMN). In talking with Marilyn Johns, I was informed that POAMN was having its annual meeting in Missouri, and, if interested, I should attend where I could learn more.
I decided to go and there I met a lot of very interesting people, including former UPSem faculty: professors Henry Simmons and Jean Cooley, just to name a few. I was informed of the process to become certified and immediately took the required course work over a three-year period. I am now preparing for my capstone project to complete the final step of becoming certified as a facilitator of Older and Aging Adult Ministry.
If anyone is interested, I recommend you get in touch with your respective judicatory to see if your denomination has a program similar to those of the Presbyterian, United Methodist, Mennonite or Episcopal Church. Also, if you see me around campus, and are interested in this program, please let me know how I can help.