Bringing Joy to the Community - Issue #86
Perry United Methodist Church in Perry, Georgia, believes that people of all ages have musical gifts to share with the community of faith and the larger community. The older adult J.O.Y. Choir uses music to nurture not only one another, but the congregation and the community. "J.O.Y." is an acronym for "Just Older Youth." The group, which ranges in age from 60 to 93, has grown from 18 to 40 members in the past five years. Members are retired adults who rehearse weekly to prepare seasonal musicals, hymns, and songs to present in worship and in the community. The practice time of eleven o’clock on Tuesday mornings fits well with the schedules of these older adults.
With music as their witness, the J.O.Y. Choir sings in worship, other area churches, and special events such as the 2009 South Georgia Annual Conference.
Each month, they sing in area nursing homes. Often residents, who are now unable even to speak, can sing the familiar songs with the choir. The experience is quite moving. The music ministry of this choir often consoles, comforts, and inspires those who are otherwise unable to attend worship, and it allows these faithful, older church members to continue to live out and fulfill their vows of membership.
The J.O.Y. Choir has joined with youth and children two generations younger in presenting an intergenerational musical. The church has also gained new members as a result of this community outreach in music.
Some Questions for Discussion
- In what ways might you encourage your older members to participate in your church's music and worship?
- Music has often served to divide a congregation by generations. How might it be used to unite instead?
- What opportunities does your congregation provide for older adults to reach out beyond the walls of the church building and into the community?