Issue 281 -- May 12, 2016
Health Fair Offers Opportunities for Ministry
Sometimes opportunities for ministry come about in the most unlikely ways. The churches of the Valley United Methodist Parish -- Carrick, Spring Run, Doylesburg, Fayetteville, Amberson, and Concord United Methodist Churches -- in the Altoona District of the Susquehanna Annual Conference were seeking to do something to witness to their faith and to minister to the older adults in their area of Pennsylvania. These small, rural churches work together under the leadership of two pastors. It would have been easy for them to have said, “We are too small to develop a ministry for older adults.” But the supervising pastor of the charge, Rev. Jim Fox, had continued to say to them: “Keep your eyes open for the perfect opportunity and pray for God to show you the way.” The opportunity finally presented itself in the form of a Senior Health Fair, which a local state legislator was offering for his older constituents.
Rev. Fox knew that one issue that concerned recent retirees was the desire to remain fit and active. When Rep. Rob Kauffman announced that he was offering a health fair, Fox contacted him and asked for permission to have a display. Next, Rev. Fox recruited volunteers to help staff the display. He stressed to volunteers that medical, caregiving, and funeral businesses were well represented at the fair, but that there was little at the fair to represent the spiritual side of wellness. Finally, Rev. Fox contacted the Susquehanna Annual Conference Office for materials to distribute to visitors to the booth. He also contacted the Older Adult Ministries Office at Discipleship Ministries for devotional materials and articles on aging well.
The health fair provided an opportunity to take the church beyond its walls to witness to the love of Jesus Christ by talking with people one on one. Last year, the fourth year of the senior fair, more than 500 people stopped by Valley United Methodist Parish’s table. During the fair, one of the area pastors presented a seminar on how to prepare for the death of a loved one. Some health fair participants requested spiritual care sessions when they visited the display booth. Some later attended worship at various charge churches.
The health fair ministry worked for these small churches because they were able to seize the opportunity to work together to do what none of them could have done on their own. Volunteers were ready to share their faith and to provide follow-up opportunities for spiritual care with those who requested it.
Aging Faithfully: 28 Days of Prayer by Missy Buchanan
Joy Boosters: 120 Ways to Encourage Older Adults by Missy Buchanan
Shaping a Life of Significance for Retirement by Jack Hansen and Jerry Haas
Spring Chicken: Stay Young Forever (or Die Trying) by Bill Gifford
Older Adult Ministries Website, Discipleship Ministries
Questions for Reflection and Discussion
What community events could your church participate in and thus provide ministry to the community?
How does your church help retirees maintain physical and spiritual health?
Are there projects in ministry that could be completed jointly with other churches in the area more easily than one church trying to go it alone?
Produced by Discipleship Ministries of The United Methodist Church to communicate effective principles and practices demonstrated by congregations that are actively making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.
These congregations are marked by:
- Clarity around the mission and vision of the congregation.
- Practice of spiritual disciplines, both corporately and individually.
- Nurture in growth in discipleship through mutual support and accountability.
- Cultivation of intentional and mutual relationships with the most vulnerable—the poor, children, the imprisoned, the powerless.
- Consistent concern for inviting people into relationship with Jesus Christ, combined with wise practices for initiating them into the body of Christ.
- Connectional relationships that facilitate participation in God’s mission of global transformation.
- Shared clergy and lay leadership.
© 2016 Discipleship Ministries. All rights reserved. Permission is granted to copy this newsletter for use in United Methodist congregations. This newsletter is provided as a service of Discipleship Ministries and is funded through World Services apportionment giving by local United Methodist congregations.