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Senior group celebrates 30 years

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Billy Parker, owner of Parker's Barbecue talks about the history of his family's business during the 30th anniversary of The Senior Adult Fellowship at Immanuel Free Will Baptist Church Tuesday, July 11, 2017.


By Sharieka Botex
The Daily Reflector

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Nearly 200 people gathered on Tuesday to celebrate an organization that has provided fellowship, music and educational resources for senior citizens for three decades. 

The Senior Adult Fellowship held its 30th Anniversary Celebration at Immanuel Free Will Baptist Church, where people 55 and older have gathered monthly since Barbara Manning and several others started the group in 1987.

“I attended a meeting out of state, at another church that had this ministry,” said Manning, now 87. “My husband and I caught the vision that we needed to start this.”

The group includes members from all walks of life regardless of church affiliation, said Manning. Each meeting begins with a brief devotional and includes fun activities and educational programming, she said. Speakers address areas of interest to older adults including medical, legal and financial topics. 

Anyone 55 and older can join the organization, which doesn’t require any fees. The value of the ministry is showing an interest in seniors, Manning said. 

“People, as they get older, need an outlet, and these meetings are outlets for older people,” Manning said. “A lot of times this is the only outlet they have during the month, so they look forward to coming. A lot of seniors have failing health, fear of death, maybe losing a loved one, just lonely. Some may have a spiritual problem or lack of purpose in life.” 

Manning, her husband, Gene, and Jean Worthington are the three remaining original members of the group, which has about 175 members now. Manning is the director, but said she has lots of help.

Keeping the group going has involved a lot of hard work but it is worth every minute, she said. “It’s a very rewarding ministry. I am grateful.” 

On Tuesday, the group celebrated with musical performances and a message from Billy Parker of Parker’s Barbecue in Greenville. Parker offered a faith-centered message to members and guests who packed the fellowship hall.

“You are the wisdom and the knowledge at your church, so in knowing that, that should really convict you because, people like me, we need your knowledge,” Parker said. “We need your wisdom, and I am not even related to you ... Think about how much your child, son, your daughter, granddaughter, your grandson, how much they need your wisdom.”

He praised the group for the impact they have and challenged them to have more.

“In your circle of influence, what are you doing to plant seeds to impact the community?” Parker asked. “How are you impacting your children? Do you call them or do you get mad because you say they don’t call you enough? What about your grandkids, do you call them ... Do you think about being intentional, about having conversations with them when they come over to your house or you go visit them? Through those conversations you may be able to make an impact on their life.”

Parker’s message resonated with 65-year-old Randy Coghill. “I just enjoy coming out and seeing everybody and hearing the word of God being presented to us like it was today and in different aspects,” Coghill said. “My son is the pastor here. I enjoy coming out seeing him ... I think Billy Parker did a great job this morning.”

For 79-year-old Joe Martin, who said he has been a member of the organization for about three years, coming together with peers and others is something he enjoys about being in the group.

“It’s a good time to fellowship with one another and hear God’s word (and) hear the good singing,” Martin said.

In the two years that Rosalie Poe has been a part of the fellowship, she said she hasn’t missed a meeting. Poe said the fellowship means a lot.

“I go to listen to all of the lovely music, learn a lot from the speakers and I get a lot of friends,” Poe said. 

The group meets at 11 a.m. on the second Tuesday of each month in the fellowship hall at Immanuel Church, 317 Vernon White Road. In addition to the program and fellowship, the group often has food. On Tuesday they had barbecue from Parker’s.

Contact Sharieka Botex at 252-329-9567 and sbotex@reflector.com. Follow her on Twitter @ShariekaB.