They’ve never been taught by the children’s, middle school, teen or campus ministry leaders; many of them have their own adult children, are grandparents or even great-grandparents. Between them they represent more than 250 years as disciples of Jesus Christ, 500 years of chronological maturity, and an immeasurable amount of knowledge, talent and wisdom.
They are members of the mature disciples of the Greater Baltimore Church of Christ. And on September 11, also known as National Grandparents Day, 13 of those mature disciples led the first-ever Wisdom Sunday Worship Service in Baltimore.
The service included a song and dance performance by members of Dance and Bmore, a nonprofit and community outreach dance and fitness program led by CJ Philip, artistic director and GBCOC member. Some of the performers were elderly residents of the J.Van Story Branch Apartments.
Chris Cowles prepared and led the group of singers—Larry Whitley, Michael Tucker, Ruth Cowles, Rebecca Mengel and Leann Whitley—some of whom had never sung on stage before. Wayne and Cherry Jenkins led the congregation in the communion and contribution segments of the worship. Ben Akyereko, Pat Watkins, Patricia Umoren and Thais Porter all shared their conversion stories.
“From the very beginning of service, I was moved to tears with the singing and dancing,” said Shirell Faison, long time GBCOC member. “The welcome helped set the tone for what was to come, and the sharing helped show me that we are all truly on a journey with God and he always wants a relationship with us regardless of the age we are or the stage we are in.”
Highlights of the service, according to Faison, were the testimonies and slide show depicting then and now photos of all of the participants.
“I loved seeing the seniors on stage, happy, singing, looking good and making their presence known to our church,” said Angie Perez, GBCOC marrieds ministry member. “I also loved seeing pictures of them in their younger years.”
Dale Porter, one of the elders in training, led a message about making choices and using the Bible to learn more about God’s wisdom, applying those scriptures to daily living and taking advantage of the knowledge, wisdom and talent found in the church.
Kalonji Craig, a GBCOC member with two sons in the teen ministry left the service inspired and encouraged. “From the perspective of someone who’s lost all four grandparents and both parents before age 42, it is an incredible feeling to know that godly experience and wisdom is still in your presence. Further, to get the sense that they are so willing to be there for you in whatever way they can is a blessing.”
“The American dream is to retire, live life easy and finally have the chance to spend your time the way you always wanted,” said Shannon Wills, another co-leader in the children’s ministry. “It was great to see and hear from men and women who choose to live for Christ. From their conversion stories and from their sharing, I see that they are more passionate about living out God’s dream.”
“It was inspiring to see our older disciples up there on stage," said Christie Chong, member of the singles ministry. "It made me realize how we need elders in our lives, people to guide us and direct us. Otherwise, we’d be lost. To share their wisdom and their lives was like, why make the same mistakes when [our senior members] are willing to share their wisdom? I’m grateful.”