Resource ministry for senior adults to launch in 2014

South Carolina Baptist Ministries for the Aging is introducing a new call-center ministry that will provide information and referral assistance to the state’s growing senior adult population.

The Baptist Senior Resource Ministry, which will launch in the Columbia Metro area in 2014 and expand statewide the following year, will “connect seniors with organizations, hopefully closing the gap between their needs and the people who can help them,” said Tom Turner, SCBMA president.

Turner said the new ministry will partner with Baptist associations in the Columbia area, the lieutenant governor’s Office on the Aging, social agencies, businesses and church volunteers.

He said that while there are many organizations in place to address the needs of senior adults, people often have difficulty connecting to those resources. He said statistics indicate that it takes the average senior adult seven phone calls to access a needed resource. “Many times, the senior fails to connect to a resource due to frustration, causing many to go without their needs being met,” Turner said.

He said there are 912,000 people in South Carolina over the age of 65, and the number is expected to double over the next 15 years to 2 million — or one out of every four residents of the state. “While this population boom is expected to strain resources in our state, we recognize that it will also affect much in Baptist life,” Turner said. “We have a pressing mission to provide help for those on this journey by connecting senior adults and their families to immediate answers and resources.”

SCBMA board members unanimously voted to adopt the new ministry at their May 2013 meeting. “The trustees believe so strongly in this new ministry that they have personally contributed over $14,000 toward its creation,” said Turner.

Ray Long, SCBMA’s board chairman, said there are “thousands of senior adults in South Carolina with unmet needs, many of whom have no personal relationship with Christ. What better way to obey Jesus’ command to love one another, thus demonstrating God’s love for us?”

Turner said it is the “desire of the trustees that the Senior Resource Ministry activities be funded primarily by Baptist friends who want to financially support this expansion, [while] reserving Cooperative Program support for the retirement communities operated by SCBMA.”

“We as Baptists can do more together in cooperation, and we seek to partner with churches, pastors and passionate individuals who want to serve seniors in this state,” Turner said. Individuals or churches interested in supporting or serving in the ministry can reach the SCBMA office at 803-227-6051.