Jubilation celebrated its 10th anniversary with the teachings of three bishops April 11-13 at MeadowView Resort and Conference Center in Kingsport, Tenn.
Under the theme, "Living Abundantly,"retirees partook of the workshops, fellowship, and luxury accommodations that have come to define the annual retreat. 298 participants came from as far as Burks UMC in Chattanooga District and Dublin UMC in Wytheville District -- and as nearby as First Broad Street UMC in Kingsport District.
Bishop Richard Looney, a Holston native now retired and serving Telford UMC in Johnson City District, returned to Jubilation to lead Bible study. Bishop Mary Virginia Taylor, now serving as South Carolina Conference resident bishop, came to her home conference to lead worship. Bishop James Swanson, Holston's resident bishop, delivered the keynote message on Monday evening.
Speakers encouraged older adults to stay engaged in ministry, while dispensing experience to younger believers and setting the tone for leadership.
"Older adults are the keepers of the tradition and heritage of the United Methodist Church," Bishop Swanson said. "You must insist somehow that we don't lose our sense of being together, of being in community, because it's in community that God is at his best ... We are in this together, and we want to pass on the baton with a sense of hope."
Referring to Psalm 1 on Tuesday morning, Bishop Looney warned listeners not to "stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers."
"Maybe the Christians of the world ought to start praying for the leaders who have the guts and courage to do what's right for America and the Kingdom of God, and not just focus on winning the next election," Looney said.
He said he feared for the future of the "bitterly partisan" nation, where citizens "demonize those we disagree with."
"We're out to destroy our enemies, which is us," he said. "We want everything but we don't want to pay for it." Looney concluded by praying, "Please forgive us for being so self-centered and so insensitive to the needs of people who are suffering and hurting."
At concluding worship, Bishop Taylor said that Jesus' walk to Emmaus in Luke 24 was a good model for coaching younger believers in their spiritual journeys. Jesus related to the travelers through five steps, she said: Relate, reflect, refocus, resource, review.
"I encourage you to use the same model with your children, your grandchildren, and others," Taylor said. Take time to build relationships, and ask the simple questions that cause them to reflect, refocus, and reconsider their spiritual challenges.
"Jesus never forces himself. He waits to be invited," she said.
An offering was taken for Jubilee Project in Sneedville, Tenn.