Society often views seniors as Ornery, Cranky, Critical, Angry, Slow, Ill-tempered, Obstinate, and Negative. However, the OCCASION of the Central States Conference 2018 Senior Retreat found our seniors to be Outstanding, Caring, Creative, Amicable, Spiritual, Intelligent, Optimistic and Nice.

God’s Faithful Servant—Living Your Gold was hosted by the Central States Conference Family Ministries Department during camp meeting in June. Over the course of the five-day event more than 100 seniors participated in this retreat designed specifically for them.

Beginning on Wednesday afternoon, conference president Elder Roger Bernard, VP of finance Elder Tonya Anderson and VP of administration Elder Cryston Josiah welcomed the seniors. The first evening included a roundtable discussion focused on what seniors thought would make their “golden years” truly golden, followed by a dinner prepared by Donna Brown and the camp meeting culinary team.

Thursday’s activities included a tour of the Kansas City Money Museum where seniors saw a gold bar, the Truman coin collection, and even walked away with a bag of a billion dollars—a billion shredded dollars. Later the community outreach coordinator for the Kansas AARP joined the group at Golden Corral for lunch and shared Golden Resources available to seniors.

Guest presenter Sister Anita Clay challenged the seniors to share and write their stories in Age Ain’t Nothing But a Number. Many accepted the challenge, and that evening allowed Central States youth to interview and record portions of their life stories.

Friday began with Your Health Is Your Wealth workshops. Retired pastors Gabe Taylor and Roosevelt Williams spoke about spiritual health and Sister Barbara Williams and her son presented Don’t Stop Now on the value of physical health and exercise. Sister Dorothy Favors presented As You Think, You Are on why emotional health is important, and Sister Clay presented Looking for Love in All the Suggested Places about the value of social health and relationships.

Honoring seniors through fashion and humor

Seniors also had the opportunity to enjoy and be rejuvenated by the evening and Sabbath worship services of camp meeting. Many were attending for their first time or had not attended in years. Brother Dallas Pottinger led a special after-church dinner with discussion of how seniors can still minister. Saturday night was spent with a senior table game night.

The retreat culminated with a senior honor banquet held at the KCI Embassy Suites ballroom Sunday afternoon. The seniors—dressed in lovely formal attire—were honored in the We Give You Our Golden Love event.

Sister Clay delighted with her God-given gift of laughter at the senior fashion show where she presented valuable truths about seniors and life. The 2018 honorees were Mildred Collier, Viola Todd, Joan Ponder, Laura Morgan and Roberta Mays, who were presented the Faithful Servant Award by the CSC administrative team. CSC pastors presented each senior in attendance a medallion honoring their value and showing appreciation for their years of faithful service.

Because of popular demand, the camp meeting senior retreat will be repeated in 2019. All Central States seniors and others interested in attending are encouraged to begin planning to attend next year.

Denise Johnson is Central States Conference Family Ministries co-director.