AgingHuman InterestPersonal HistoryWellness


When we moved to Arizona five-and-a-half years ago, we didn’t know a soul. Right away we found a church to attend, hoping it would fulfill our spiritual needs and maybe be a source of friendship and social interaction. The church was a small congregation with an average Sunday morning attendance of about 75, and the majority of the members were older folks about our same age. We got to know some of them, but there were many others we found more difficult to get to know. 

Many years ago, members of our church in Indianapolis formed a seniors ministry called “Senior Servants.” This ministry met weekly and was successful at bringing senior citizens together for Bible study and to share topics of interest to older folks. That ministry was a big success and exists to this day under the name of “Growing Hearts Toward God.”

Borrowing on the idea at our Indianapolis church, three years ago I got involved in starting a S.E.N.I.O.R.S. ministry at our AZ church. Our main purpose was to share the gospel of Christ with one another but also with our community and those in need. We hoped to accomplish this through public meetings, fellowships, and benevolence. We anticipated this would lead the members to develop closer friendships with one another and work together in cooperation toward a goal.

S.E.N.I.O.R.S. is an acronym which explains the mission and purpose of the ministry. The letters are explained and defined in the following:

S — Spirituality

E — Education

N — Nutrition/Fitness

I — Intergenerational

O — Outreach/Mission

R — Recreation/Fellowship

S — Service Opportunities

We have identified five purposes listed below and examples of how we carry out these purposes follow later. They are:

  1. Worship and Spirituality – we have prayer and devotionals at every meeting
  2. Enrichment and Learning – lectures and presentations (see below)
  3. Wellness and Health – diet and exercise
  4. Outreach and Visitation – visit the homebound and nursing home residents
  5. Fellowship and Recreation – pitch-ins, field trips, shared meals

We meet the first Tuesday of every month and begin with “caring and sharing,” to identify those  with health issues, or other needs, and offer prayer on their behalf.

A devotional presented by one of our members then follows. These devotionals have been very well done and pertain to events that impact the spiritual lives of older people and emphasize leading a strong Christian life.

The meeting then takes one of two directions. We either have a speaker presentation on a topic of pertinence to older citizens or we take a field trip to a local place of education or interest. 

Lunch is the final activity of the meeting. Sharing a meal gives us the chance to strengthen our friendships.

What follows next is an explanation of what means we have used to fulfill the five stated purposes of the ministry.

Worship/Spirituality: there has been strong emphasis on prayer for those in need. Devotionals have focused on living a better life and helping others.

Enrichment/Learning: We have had lectures on cruising the Panama Canal, visiting U.S. National Parks, Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, long term care insurance, living trusts, funeral planning, advance directives, the 100th Indy 500, Heritage Square, the Price house designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, Veteran’s Memorial at Scottsdale airport, the Phoenix Police Museum. the Firefighter Hall of Flame, experience as a guide and outfitter, experience as a journalist, and a tour and lunch at the Wrigley Mansion.

Wellness/Health: We have had talks on nutrition, cholesterol, exercise by a personal trainer, the annual physical exam, and organizing your cluttered life.

Outreach/Visitation: We have prepared and delivered fellowship baskets for shut-ins and nursing home residents from our church. Delivered house plants to others. Provided rides to and from church services and to S.E.N.I.O.R.S. activities.

Fellowship/Recreation: We have met for lunch after meetings. We have twice had grilling demonstrations and “cook-outs” for fellowshipping. We meet to play board or card games, Bunco, etc. 

These activities have achieved the desired goal—to improve our Christian walk and encourage us to better know one another. 

Yesterday, was the second annual S.E.N.I.O.R.S. ministry grilling demonstration and cook out on the patio of our church. Mick Corcoran from the Cave Creek BBQ School was our guest speaker and grilling expert. He brought his wood smoker, a small Weber charcoal grill, plus he used the church’s gas grill. He demonstrated how to use each technique and what items were best to grill with each. Twenty one of us brought our own meat item for Mick to grill on gas, charcoal, or smoke. Folks brought chicken, pork, ribs, kabobs, hamburger, brats, and steak (rib eye, filet). He was a master at timing the completion of each item exactly as the individual wanted. Other than being a little warm outside, the whole event was a huge success. We had more to eat than I could have imagined, and everyone seemed to have a good time. 

A cookout is a more secular example of a ministry event, but spiritual activities are included as well. The “fellowship baskets” mentioned above are an example of the benevolent and spiritual emphasis of the ministry. A suggestion by one of our members led to the purchase of often-used personal items to include in the baskets. Shampoo, soaps, mirrors, dental care items, note pads, pens, and hand-made lap blankets were gathered, placed in baskets and delivered to our members who are shut in. The fellowship baskets were well-received and brought smiles to the faces of several recipients.

The S.E.N.I.O.R.S. ministry at our church has been a good work. The cooperation from all the members has been very gratifying, and I appreciate the many great suggestions that have been made. For older folks who may be alone, it has been a source of support and social interaction.  For couples it serves to erase boredom; it’s a place to go and something to do together that is spiritually uplifting. 

Thanks to the church leadership for their strong support. 

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    1. Thanks, Nancy. The goal has been achieved. Our speaker next Tuesday will talk about “Tracing your ancestry: Using DNA to get answers.”

    1. You participated once when we went to Heritage Square in downtown PHX. Then we ate at CB & CB in Old Town.

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