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70-something sisters find holiday fun & enrichment

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Sisters Odell Tarpley and Hazel Gregor, typical of many of the energetic senior adults in Southern Baptist churches, want to have a good time.

They also want experiences that broaden them intellectually and spiritually.

“Oh, we do have a good time,” Tarpley said. The ladies attend Mount Zion Baptist Church in Crumby, Texas. “Senior adults are so active today. We aren’t content to just sit and look at the four walls. We love life and want to be out doing and going. We never want to stop learning new things.” Both admit to being “in our 70s and let’s just leave it at that.”

Tarpley and Gregor were in Nashville, Tenn., for the Dec. 3-5 “Light Up Your Holidays” enrichment event for seniors hosted by LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention. This year’s gathering, at the Opryland Hotel and Resort, offered music, fellowship, art, education and entertainment to 500 seniors from 18 states.

The sisters attend at least one LifeWay-sponsored event for senior adults each year. Last December they attended Light Up Your Holidays at LifeWay Ridgecrest Conference Center near Asheville, N.C., when several inches of snow fell, blanketing the campus. Tarpley said that for “two Texas girls” the snow was a special treat.

Senior adults make up about 12 percent of the American population. No figures are kept documenting the percentage of senior adults in Southern Baptist churches, but looking across congregations gives a clear indication that the percentage is higher.

LifeWay plans senior adult events in response to expressed desires by senior adults and the churches they attend.

“LifeWay understands that the senior adults in our churches are valued members whose wisdom and experience contribute to healthy churches,” said Danny Jones, leader of LifeWay’s adult enrichment events area. “That’s why we plan so many events specifically for them and why these events are so well-attended. We know they expect more than just an enjoyable event; they want to be challenged to think and learn about spiritual concepts as well. Otherwise, they could just choose an activity or trip not associated with their churches.”

Because of the popularity of the events, early registration is a must. “Light Up Your Holidays was sold out by July,” Jones said.

The sisters already have planned for their next event. They’ll be back in Nashville in March for the Senior Adult Gospel Reunion.

“I love the music,” Gregor said. “I play the piano at my church. We don’t really have a choir — we just have about 35 people — but we all love to sing. This gospel music [event] will be the best thing ever!”
For information about events for senior adults, go to www.lifeway.com. Click on the events tab, then on enrichment, then senior adults. Information is also available by phone at 1-800-254-2022. (BP) photos posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo titles: FUN-LOVING SISTERS and SCULPTING FOR SENIORS.

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  • Polly House