Many churches pay respect to their most senior members, but Good Shepherd Episcopal Hayesville makes an effort to keep them involved in the active life of the parish. On June 17, 35 senior members, along with former Rector John Rice, were honored at a luncheon in the Parish Hall, with an international menu prepared by senior Nick George.
During brief remarks, current Rector Dr. Bill Breedlove expressed appreciation to the elders for his involvement with them during his first year at Good Shepherd, saying, “You have been a real blessing to me this year.”
For entertainment, the always energetic Adelaide Fullilove led the singing of beloved hymns such as “How Great Thou Art,” “Love Lifted Me,” and “What a Friend We Have in Jesus.”
Faye Hobbs, chairwoman of the Older Adults Ministry, explains that the luncheon is not just an occasion to honor the older adults but also an effort to keep them actively involved. Most attend faithfully on Sunday mornings, they express their opinions forcefully, and they work in the church's varied ministries. Some deliver Holy Communion on Sunday afternoons to shut-ins; others drive Meals on Wheels; some knit regularly with the Prayer Shawl Ministry.
The tradition of feting the older members and also of recording their life stories in a special notebook was begun in 2011 when Father John was preparing to retire from Good Shepherd. A series of interviews was started so that the stories of these parishioners' lives and accomplishments would not be forgotten. After Tuesday's luncheon, more stories will be recorded and added to the book, which holds a place of honor in the church library. Younger and newer parishioners find these stories fascinating.
When chairwoman Faye moves later this year to Washington State, parishioner Hilda Reeves will take over the Older Adults Ministry, which is only one of the more than 50 ministries that Good Shepherd keeps active.