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Laughter and reminiscing echoed through the room two years ago as mostly age-70-plus retirees looked at old film footage of the First Christian Church congregation through the years.
Members of the Fellowship Senior Adults group ribbed fellow church member Milo Smith when he appeared in a number of segments helping people down the front steps.
The warmth was evident in the simple, monthly get-together of The Greatest Generation Group.
Now, First Christian is opening its older members ministry umbrella a little wider. Leaders are launching a new group, Generation Plus, for younger seniors starting at about age 60 under an outreach heading, “Generations: Connecting With God.”
The effort kicks off today with a 200-person luncheon that filled up days ago. Part of the reason for the gathering is to honor the veteran group — and welcome the new one.
Dan Wallace, the church’s worship and generations minister, said people of similar ages still like to share interests and memories. And Generations is simply a more focused and intentional way to disciple people as believers.
“We all still have certain things we like within our own generation,” Wallace said. “The Greatest Generation group may be the only ones who can truly relate in a detailed way to stock market crash or to the date of Dec. 7 and Pearl Harbor.
“This is something that makes everybody more like a family.”
People 65 and older represent one of the largest segments of the Bartholomew County population at 14 percent, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. They also are among the fastest-growing group.
The Greatest Generation Group will continue to meet for a meal and a program speaker at noon the second Tuesday of each month at the church, 531 Fifth St. Its next gathering will be Oct. 8 and will feature Bob Pitman, Mill Race Center executive director, speaking on “Friendship As a Vaccine Against Illness.”
The new Generations Plus group, still in the planning stages, probably will participate in activities such as scavenger hunts, out-of-town trips to locales such as Chicago, service projects and efforts to mentor younger church members such as the young adults.
“It’s not about numbers,” Wallace said when asked about the possible size. “This is about souls.”
National Christian church leader and trend tracker George Barna has highlighted aging baby boomers as a group that will pose a ministry challenge for many churches.
“How do we minister to the most affluent, highly educated ... generation the world has ever seen, and who is not willing to accept what’s been done previously?” he asked during remarks in Ontario a few years ago.
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