Community is theme of older adult retreat
Coming by bus, vans and cars, about 150 men and women gathered in what was once the dining room of West River Camping and Retreat Center April 28, to worship, study, learn and fellowship at the spring “Older Adults Day Away.”
The Rev. Mary Jane Coleman led a Bible study on the theme, “Weaving the Fabric of Community.”
“Everyone needs community,” she said.
Today, we have a lot of information sharing with cell phones, computers, and many means of technology, “but not heart sharing,” Coleman said. “Busyness keeps us from being a ‘we.’”
Community is God’s gift for overcoming isolation, she said.
Coleman also led the closing worship and Communion service, stressing that a congregation doesn’t exist for itself, but for the community. “When churches become too insular, we lose the capacity to grow,” she said.
Keynote speaker, the Rev. Fred Smith, professor of urban ministry, spoke of community in many ways.
Smith said he grew up listening to Martin Luther King Jr.’s speeches about “beloved community,” and learned of King’s assassination in 1968, while a student at Mills college in Oakland, Calif. Years later his life changed when his 16-year-old nephew was shot to death in Oakland.
“I knew theology,” he said, “but not how to speak to the young people in the street.” He stopped working on his PhD and began spending all of his time trying “to help my folks.”
His urban ministry was born. He developed programs in alcohol and drug rehabilitation, gun control, pregnancy centers and more. “I didn’t call it ‘ministry,’ I just knew the Gospel had to be relevant,” he said.
After lunch, the group divided into several workshops and interest groups, and many took boat rides.
About 40 members attended a special interest session held by the Rev. Bill Holmes to launch his book, “Mature Christianity,” received from the publisher the day before. Holmes read excerpts from the book he wrote, “in an attempt to make the Gospel meaningful and authentic for today,” he said.
“I hope to speak with some credibility to clergy who believe you can speak to today’s minds,” he said. The book “is not intended to be swallowed whole, but taken with a grain of salt,” and lends itself to study groups, both laity and clergy.
In “Mature Christianity” Holmes focuses on teachings of Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Paul Tillich with more than a sprinkling of Sigmund Freud and Marcus Borg.
Holmes said many Christians are stuck in their beliefs from early childhood, but it is time to “grow up,” to move into more mature beliefs of adulthood.
“God would want (us) to achieve our full potential, not hold onto a clinging, helpless childishness,” he said.
Holmes will be available at Annual Conference to sign his new book.