GLORIETA, N.M. (BP)-–As 300-plus retirees gather for the sixth annual Celebration of Service for Retired Ministers, many will remember Eugene Greer, who helped start the event in 1999.
Greer, a retired missions leader with the Baptist General Convention of Texas, lost his battle with cancer in July 2003.
This year, Richard Faling, director of retiring ministers for the Texas convention, will coordinate the Sept. 13-17 gathering at the LifeWay Glorieta Conference Center in New Mexico.
For Faling, an old friend of Greer’s, picking up where Greer left off is a bittersweet undertaking.
“He was one of my best friends,” Faling said. Both men had known each other for 30 years through mission work with the Texas convention.
Voicing a hope to bring the same energy and passion to the gathering as Greer, Faling noted: “He set a heavy pace that I’m challenged to keep up with and make it better.”
Greer never earned a doctorate, but many people still called him “Dr. Greer.” He was a runner, musician and someone who enjoyed being around people.
“Dr. Greer had a heartbeat for helping people,” Faling said. “He really was a people person.”
With a mailing list of 5,700 names, Faling said the event has the potential to grow from 300 to eventually 800 people. It’s an event that has been successful in reuniting old friends who have lost touch through the years as well as in sparking new relationships.
“The people are so happy to be there,” Faling said. “You can really feel the spirit of the people.
“It’s a time of fellowship and renewal. A lot of them don’t get to go to a homecoming at their school, so it is kind of a reunion. Dr. Greer realized that this is so important. It’s a way that we can give back to those that have given their lives to ministry.”
Loy Beaird, who used to work with Greer at the Texas convention on retiree events, said the annual gathering was somewhat of a dream for Greer.
“He wanted those who had served in ministry to have a week where they could come out and relax and rejoice,” Beaird said.
“He loved to do things for people behind the scenes.”
Each day of the conference is filled with Bible study, seminars and an evening fellowship.
The seminars deal with such topics as outliving your retirement, establishing trusts and wills, investing money, healthy living and how to enjoy retirement.
For the first time, a seminar just for women also will be offered dealing with various issues wives of retired ministers face in retirement.
Though the event encompasses numerous former ministers from Texas, all church retirees are welcome. Faling said Greer used to say, “We don’t have a credentials committee so all are welcome.”
For more information on the celebration, contact the LifeWay Glorieta Conference Center at 1-800-797-4222. The only cost for the event is room and board.