The population of older adults – those age 50 or older – continues to grow.  As these numbers grow, we continue to explore ways to engage this group in ministry in our local churches and districts.  The Holston Conference Older Adult Ministries welcomes persons who are seeking information on how to organize for program and work with persons aged 55 and older in their congregations and communities.  Likewise, t is important that we seek more interesting methods of reaching those who are becoming home-bound. What joyous times are ahead of us as we grow in our willingness to provide innovative ways to provide opportunities for our people to know God better and to serve God to their fullest.

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Special delivery for seniors: Cupcakes convey 'love and care'

Nancy Lester (right) delivers cupcakes to Lynda and Lewis Wexler, members at Munsey Memorial United Methodist Church.

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. -- Every July for the last 15 years, Munsey Memorial United Methodist Church has put on a fancy dinner for members ages 75 years and older.

The pandemic prevented the dinner from happening this year, since the risk for severe illness from COVID-19 increases with age, with older adults at highest risk.

The congregation didn’t let that stop them from showing their love and appreciation in a new way.

“Instead on focusing on what we can’t do, we focused on what we can do,” said the Rev. Michael Lester, associate pastor in congregational care and counseling.

On July 28, about 30 volunteers delivered cupcakes and cards to 220 members throughout their city. Instead of sharing the love with about 100 older adults who could make it to a dinner at the church, a team including children, youth, young adults, and staff reached more than twice as many people at their own homes.

The cupcakes were individually wrapped and purchased from a nearby bakery. To keep the recipients safe from virus spread, delivery volunteers were instructed to call ahead, wear masks and gloves, keep their distance, and “no hugging,” said Lester.
"Expression of our love and appreciation"
 

Many older adults feel “isolated and forgotten,” Lester explained, “and this was another way of reminding them we love and care for them.”

“It seems like a simple gesture,” he added, “but for many of them, it made their day. Some of them had tears in their eyes.”

Amanda Onks took her two children, Cooper, age 10, and Laney, age 6, along to deliver cupcakes and cards to six members. Onks serves as Munsey’s youth ministry executive assistant.

She made one of her deliveries to Jane LaPella, Munsey’s former organist who retired in 2014 after 50 years of service.

LaPella’s 85th birthday was July 27, so the Onks family was thrilled to drop off a cupcake and wish her happy birthday.
Youth (with leader Amanda Onks) join the delivery team.


The deliveries were made to homes, apartments, and retirement facilities (where some face-to-face interactions were not possible for the safety of residents), Lester said.

A nice surprise and outcome was that some recipients wanted to send a check back with the volunteers to support the local church and keep their giving pledges current.

Since March, Munsey has worshiped online only. Plans to reopen the church to in-person worship in mid-July were delayed when coronavirus cases began to surge again in Washington County.

“These are people who no longer have the chance to bring their checks to the church and put them in the offering plate,” Lester said. “Some saw this as an opportunity.”



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Holston Conference includes 853 churches in East Tennessee, Southwest Virginia, and North Georgia.