When we talk about Broadus, we frequently refer to ourselves as a “church family.” What does that mean? We all have families into which we were born or adopted. Those families help us, in part, define and understand who we are. A church family is different because we choose to become part of it.
As a child or teen being brought to church with our parents, we may not have a choice, but eventually everyone has a choice whether to be part of a church family and, if so, which one to join. When they function well, our families, whichever one we’re talking about, become places of safety, places where we know beyond a shadow of a doubt that we will find love, support, and encouragement as we navigate our way through life.
We have a Wednesday evening meals many weeks of the year, but a few of them are called Family Nights because we want to encourage our church family to make room in their schedules for these meals. Much as the Thanksgiving meals that we will celebrate next week do, they provide opportunities to celebrate that we belong together. They affirm our bonds to one another.
In recent years, the program for our Thanksgiving Family Nights has been the Senior Singers performing their musical. This group of musicians has been part of Broadus since we first existed as a church. The members have changed over the years, and they are fewer in number now than they were twenty years ago, but their twofold ministry has remained the same. They sing hymns in area care facilities, primarily memory care units, on the second Tuesday of each month, and they present a musical in area churches and independent living communities.
This ministry impacts our community in a variety of ways. Music is buried deep in our brains, and often a person who is for the most part non-verbal can still sing a hymn when they are unable to enter into a conversation. Whether they’re singing hymns or their musical, the Senior Singers are bearing witness to a faith that sustains them as they grow older. And they model to their audience one of the aspects of healthy aging: staying engaged.
You do not need to attend Broadus to join the Senior Singers. In fact, most of the group today is comprised of non-Broadus members. What you do need is a love of singing and a desire to share your voice to encourage, inspire, and entertain others. If you want more information on this group, please call our church office at 977-7381, and we’ll get you connected.
When I first began working with senior adults 20+ years ago, I did a lot of reading because thus far most my work in churches had been with children and youth. Somewhere I read or heard a description of the senior adult population as being composed of “go-gos,” “slow-gos,” and “no-gos.” That description caught my attention because it made sense.
Over the years, I’ve known 95 year old “go-gos” and 75 year old “slow gos.” Participation in senior adult programs is generally a factor of health rather than age. It was easy to plan trips for the “go-gos” that would accommodate the “slow-gos” and to visit the “no-gos,” but it was also important to me to create space where everyone could be together. That’s where the senior adult lunch has its origins.
For many years, it was a monthly program.Then for a few years the number of attendees had dwindled so we took a hiatus. Now new life has been breathed into the lunch, and we’re gathering multiple times a year. The purpose now is the same that it has always been: getting to know each other better and becoming a group that can provide support and encouragement to each other as we all move through the aging process.
Because you can only eat so long, lunch is followed by a program. Sometimes it’s informative, like our August program on grief provided by Hospice of the Piedmont, and sometimes we play games designed to challenge and entertain. We finish up within 1 ½ hours so that our Senior Singers can go to rehearsal at 1:30 PM.
Our next Senior Adult Lunch, which is always open to anyone who can attend, not just senior adults, will be Tuesday, November 19. Liz Andrasi Deere will be sharing with us about her participation in a pilgrimage along an ancient pilgrim route, the Via Francigena, this past summer.
Join us in the sanctuary at 12:00 PM. The cost for lunch is $3.00. You can sign up in the narthex or call the church office to let us know you’re coming, but don’t let not having made a reservation keep you from coming. We always plan on food for extras!
According to Pew Research Center, a nonpartisan American fact gathering organization, in 2017 27% of Americans described themselves as “spiritual but not religious.” That was up from 19% when they asked that same question in 2012. Their research showed that this increase was true in every age category and every level of education and was evenly split between men and women. Churches across the country are grappling with what that means for them and their future.
At Broadus it’s been no different. We look at decreased attendance and giving and wonder about where we’re going. Members voice, sometimes in Church Council or deacon’s meetings, but more often in whispered conversations, “where will Broadus be in 10 years?” Given what we see going on around us, that’s a legitimate question. And for those of us who love this particular faith community, it’s a scary question.
We decided that it was important as a congregation to try to understand what it means when individuals defines themselves as “spiritual but not religious.” What are they saying about themselves, but more importantly what are they saying about the church as a whole? What do we need to hear and how do we as Broadus need to respond? Where is God’s voice in this conversation and what do we hear Him saying? To help guide our conversations, we suggested that our three adult classes study Christianity After Religion: The End of Church and the Birth of a New Spiritual Awakening by Diana Butler Bass. Books were purchased for anyone who wanted to read along, and each week discussion guides were prepared to help readers process and apply what Bass wrote. Group discussions followed each of the three sections allowing participants to hear what individuals in the other classes were saying. We had a plan that we believed to be Spirit directed, but we knew that there was no way to determine the outcome.
On August 25th we finished up our study with a group discussion. For some participants, it was frustrating that Bass did not provide more concrete answers about how to address the place of the church and Christianity in 2019 America. But that was never her purpose. Her purpose was to get us to ask questions of ourselves as she described trends that she observed and set them in the context of church history.
Our last group discussion centered on what we should focus on next. To try to answer the question, “What were the topics discussed, or questions raised, that you would like to further explore?” There were plenty of answers that we’ll have to sort through in the coming weeks. There is an interest in learning more about spiritual practices, things like fixed hour prayer, hospitality, meditation, community…practices that have long been associated with spirituality. There is an interest in considering how Broadus currently defines church membership and exploring changes to that as we seek to live out the truth of the gospel: ”For God so loved the world…” There is an interest in gaining a greater understanding of other world religions and our relationship to them.
Clearly Bass accomplished her purpose. We read, discussed, agreed, disagreed, and allowed the process to help us focus on Broadus and ask God “what’s next?” It will take time, but we will get to each of these topics because God’s Spirit is so clearly moving in our midst. The challenge, as it always is, will be to listen and discern and follow. It’s an exciting time to be part of the Broadus faith community!
If you’ve never heard of Camp Young at Heart (CYAH), you’re not alone. Even though this program has been going on for fifteen years and information has been sent to churches of every denomination around Charlottesville, many people who register for the first time tell us they’d never heard of it before. For three days in August adults, primarily of retirement age, gather at Aldersgate United Methodist Church to worship, learn, and get to know each other. Classes are offered on a variety of topics, some biblical and others offering the chance to learn a new skill or expand understanding of a particular topic. Some years we’ve had attendance in the mid-60s and other years it’s gotten closer to 90. What is always the case is that 16-19 churches are represented and that they’re not all Baptist. Our theological differences aren’t important. All of us are God’s children and glad to be together, raising our voices in song, bowing our heads in prayer, and engaging our minds in learning.
When we look at Acts and read the various letters that Paul wrote to those first churches in what are now the countries of Greece and Turkey, we hear him plead over and over again for unity. In Ephesians 4:3-6, we read, “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called;one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” At Camp Young at Heart, we put that lofty goal into place and celebrate our oneness as children of God. In a time when division and rancor seem to be running rampant, it is good to be part of something where that is not present.
Another aspect of CYAH worth celebrating is that it offers participants a chance to learn something new. Every year one of the classes that returns by popular request is Virginia Thompson’s art class. Some years it’s oil painting, other years it’s watercolor or printmaking, but always art. What surprises me every year when I talk to the participants, and admire their artwork, is that for at least one person this is the first time that they’ve ever taken an art class. Many of them have said it was something they always wanted to try, but, for a variety of reasons, they had never done so. Often that reason was a fear of failure, and they had allowed their fear to stop them from pursuing a dream. It is exciting to see someone liberated from fear.
At Broadus, we take seriously our charge to be part of ushering in God’s “kingdom on Earth as it is in heaven.” That means finding unity in the midst of differences, being a faith community where all are welcome, acknowledging that none of us have a lock on the truth and that we’re all in the process of becoming, and always having as our goal to be the presence of Christ in our world. Our support of Camp Young at Heart is just one aspect of putting that charge into action.
If CYAH sounds like something you would like to be part of, you haven’t missed it for 2019! It will be held next week, August 26-28, 9:00 AM-2:00 PM at Aldersgate United Methodist Church. The cost is $25.00 for individuals and $40.00 for couples. You can call the Broadus church office at 434-977-7381 to register.
At Broadus Memorial Baptist Church we believe we are called to love God and love our neighbors. The stories you read on this blog offer a witness to the ways we respond to God's love and seek to share that love with others.
Scripture describes the church as a body, made up of many parts. Just as your tiniest toe isn't aware of the intricate work your heart or brain do, it can sometimes happen that people in the church body only see what is happening immediately around them. Our hope is that reading these stories will help forge connection and inspire greater love and understanding for one another.
At Broadus we are a community defined by warm-hearted fellowship and thoughtful inquiry. We hope you see evidence of that in the stories we share here. We hope you know, or come to know, that you are a part of God's grand story and that you are welcome to join us, on a Sunday, a Wednesday, or any gathering in between.
The life of faith is a journey, and we are not meant to walk it alone. Our stories connect us and we are excited to share some of ours with you.
If you have a story you'd like to share or would like to connect in some other way you can send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or call (434) 977-7381.
Please visit our new YouTube channel to find all of the latest videos of sermons, Bible studies, and ways to stay connected while we are not gathering in-person.