Helping Seniors Stay Connected Amid COVID-19
Triad Baptist Church is launching a new ministry project that makes use of an unexpected gift of COVID-19: more time together at home.
With school, business and other closings slowing down life for families and individual members, Executive Pastor for Children and Ministries Tim Gerber said several church leaders saw an opportunity to better serve the church’s older adults.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, older adults and others with underlying health conditions are most at risk for developing serious illness from COVID-19.
More than a fifth of Triad Baptist Church’s members — 80 couples and 120 individuals — are 65 or older and fall into this group.
“None of us know why we’re facing COVID-19 not just as a nation but globally,” Gerber said. “But we do know this: we serve a God who is with us and working through this crisis for good. So we need to ask ourselves as a church and as individual Christians, ‘What is God making possible for us through COVID-19?’
“The most vulnerable group to this disease and most at risk for being further isolated is clearly older adults,” he said. “What an opportunity to live out God’s command to love, honor and care for older adults just as He does while giving families and those from multiple generations the opportunity to serve and build lasting relationships.”
With Triad Baptist launching an all-online campus to protect public health and comply with CDC guidelines and state orders, Gerber said that Project Silver Lining will help keep older members connected through regular phone calls.
How it works
Members can sign up to adopt up to three senior adult couples or individuals in the project. They will have the ability request specific families like those they may already have some relationship with or may even be related to (if that family has not been assigned).
Alison Bennett, who joined Triad in March 2019 with her husband, Jason, and their two children, will lead the effort matching members with seniors. Her service follows stints as a Vacation Bible School coordinator and TBC Women’s Ministry and Ladies Event Planning Team member and draws on work experience as a coordinator and analyst.
“I have been praying for just the right opportunity to serve and utilize those God-gifted talents,” she said. “Combining those with my passion for helping others in Project Silver Lining feels like the perfect fit!
“I am so excited to be a part of this amazing ministry and look forward to being a part of touching lives and seeing how the connections made during this challenging time can continue as our world returns to normal.”
By signing up online for Project Silver Lining, members commit to call each person or couple they adopt at least two times a week and to relay any urgent needs back to the church so they can he handled as safely and efficiently as possible.
In their first calls, those who sign up for Project Silver Lining will gather such basic information as whether the member has a local support network of family and friends, and whether they can access Triad’s Sunday services.
Based on sign-ups, the project will look to ensure that as many senior homes as possible are being regularly contacted and have access to church worship services remotely, even if it means securing the home a DVD or CD of the service (including player if needed).
Gerber said the church landed on Project Silver Lining’s phone-call approach instead of more intensive outreach alternatives due to the potential risk asymptomatic COVID-19 carriers pose to older adults.
‘A lot of needs’ to meet
Dan Parsons, who leads the church’s Faithful Friends Ministry for older adults and is part of the Project Silver Lining team, is excited about the new outreach.
“There are a lot of needs out there that this ministry provides a way for us to address,” he said. “I’m blessed to have two daughters and family close by but many do not have that level of support.
“Whether we have support close by or are own our own, we’ve all had to make major adjustments to avoid taking unnecessary risks and getting sick with COVID-19,” he said. “I’m not able to go and come like I used to.”
Terry McKoin, who teaches a Sunday School class of nearly 40 older adults at Triad, said the COVID-19 pandemic has greatly reduced interactions among members who can’t now meet each Sunday at the church or outside as a group.
Anne Davis, another Project Silver Lining volunteer, said she can no longer pick up members at retirement homes and take them to the church because of COVID-19-related restrictions on visitors.
“It's just something that never happened before in America,” she said of the need for the new outreach represented by Project Silver Lining. “We’re trusting the Lord will provide for us, and know He will.”
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