Strength for Today, Bright Hope for Tomorrow

Encouraging older adults to take active roles in their churches and communities was the focus of a retreat November 7 led by Presbytery of the James’s Older Adult Ministry and Camp Hanover. Throughout the day, the event’s 40 participants were reminded of the rich experience and wisdom they offer.

The theme, “Strength for Today, Bright Hope for Tomorrow,” and each of the presentations addressed a different phrase from the hymn “Great is Thy Faithfulness.”

Join with all Nature Manifold Witness

Dr. Deborah Rexrode, the presbytery’s associate for Stewardship, began the morning by encouraging participants to think about the legacies they are creating each day.

“Every conversation, every encounter, every task that we do is leaving a mark on the people and the places we have touched,” she explained.

Through scripture, Rexrode suggested legacies that many may not have considered: joy, love, encouragement, forgiveness, grace, discipling, and giving.

She reminded participants, "You are a legacy because, 'According to the grace of God given to you, like a skilled master builder, God has laid a foundation and you are called to build on it.'"

Summer and Winter; Springtime and Harvest

Doug Walters, Camp Hanover's executive director, channeled legendary showman P.T. Barnum as he led a conversation on the seasons we experience throughout our lives and during our faith journey.

Walters wove together scripture passages and anecdotes from Barnum's time as a side show huckster, politician, and circus ringleader, as well as from the life stories of KFC icon Colonel Sanders, artist Grandma Moses, and comedienne Phyllis Diller.

He inspired retreat participants to contemplate the skills and experiences they had acquired and ponder how God prepares us to lead others in the next chapter of our personal ministries.

Blessings all Mine, with Ten Thousand Beside

Rev. Clay Macaulay, director for alumni development for Union Presbyterian Seminary, reflected on the blessings of our ministries and asked participants to consider their purpose in life.

During his comments, Macaulay encouraged attendees to 1) look for adventure, 2) tell their story, and 3) finish well. In the table discussions that followed, participants briefly shared their stories, dreamed of their next adventure in life, and considered ways in which a person may finish well.

Church leaders should also look to older adults in their congregations with new eyes. Picture these partners in ministry and marvel at the lifetime of knowledge and diverse experiences they possess. Imagine the witness older adults can bring to your congregation that no one else can. What are the gifts your older adults can offer your congregation? What ideas or aspirations for ministry have been sparked as you've read this article?

Older Adult Ministry is excited to be engaged in ministry throughout the presbytery. If you are interested in joining the team to plan more opportunities for fellowship and enrichment, visit or contact Lillian Rhudy at

Event details

Nov. 7, 2019
Camp Hanover


Contact Older Adult Ministry for more information.

2018 Retreat

Remembering When: The Power of Narrative and Storytelling in the Work of Social Justice

​As the new racial and intercultural justice coordinator at the Presbyterian Mission Agency, Denise Anderson will help churches tackle challenging issues like equality and poverty in their communities. Be inspired as she shares how storytelling can foster conversations necessary to create real change.

Greening Our Relationships: Life Abundant in Difficult Times

Being filled with Christ’s abundant life requires staying rooted in the relationships that keep us green with vitality: our relationship to God, to others, and to the earth. Keith Johnston will lead us in an interactive Bible study to explore how we might deepen our relationship to God and others. Sally Johnston will engage us in spiritual practices to befriend and reconnect with nature and our bodies. As we face the difficulties of aging in a tumultuous world, these relationships open us to the Spirit’s work of greening our lives and our world with renewed vitality.

Folk Dancing

Carson Rhyne has a little-known gift for calling folk dances. Don’t miss this opportunity for him to lead us in the age-old joys of folk dancing before he retires at the end of the year. Participants of all abilities welcome.

Event details

Sept. 27, 2018
Camp Hanover