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Most Presbyterian Men are grounded in their faith


Then there’s 96-year-old Bob Abrams, who celebrates his birthdays aboard a glider

by Tammy Warren | Presbyterian News Service

The Rev. Robert “Bob” Abrams has been volunteer coordinator of Presbyterian Men since 2003. (Photo by Tammy Warren)

LOUISVILLE — The Rev. Robert W. “Bob” Abrams brings joy to his colleagues at the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) headquarters in Louisville, Kentucky.

At age 96, Abrams, a former mission co-worker who from 1960-64 served World Mission in India alongside his late wife, Wanda, arrives at his office on the fourth floor of the Presbyterian Center two days each week. For the past 16 years Abrams has volunteered to serve as coordinator of the national office of Presbyterian Men.

“Bob has truly been one who has worked in many areas across the denomination and has an exciting life to share,” said the Rev. Dr. J. Herbert Nelson, II, Stated Clerk of the General Assembly during a “Coffee with the Clerk” interview with Abrams last year. “We give thanks for people like Bob who have lived a life of faithfulness to Almighty God.”

The Rev Dr. J. Herbert Nelson, II, Stated Clerk of the General Assembly, interviews the Rev. Bob Abrams, coordinator of Presbyterian Men.

Nelson added, “We are thankful for the work that the men of the church are doing, work that Bob is shepherding to a large degree out of this office. Historically the men of the church have made a significant contribution to the work of the church across the denomination. Restoring that is a very positive thing at this time.”

Although it was formerly established through a Covenant of Agreement in 1948, the men’s ministry of the PC(USA) has focused on equipping and training all men to pursue the will of Jesus through mission outreach, leadership and discipleship since the late 1800s. Formerly called “Men of the Church” until 2016, Presbyterian Men is a PC(USA) Theology, Formation and Evangelism ministry of the Presbyterian Mission Agency. Presbyterian Men Sunday is recognized on Father’s Day each year.

“Presbyterian Men are recovering from a slower time,” Abrams said. “We are alive and kicking, but we are not alive and well.” He said Presbyterian Men has some good leaders, including Dr. Robert W. James of Fayetteville, North Carolina, Moderator of the Presbyterian Men Executive Board. Leaders, he stressed, are helping rejuvenate the ministries of Presbyterian Men underway across the country.

Currently there are 611,683 Presbyterian men and 793,629 Presbyterian women, according to Presbyterian Research Services. “If you are a man confirmed in a PC(USA) congregation, you are a member of the PC(USA)’s Presbyterian Men ministry,” Abrams said.

The same year he accepted the Presbyterian Men coordinator position as an unpaid volunteer, Abrams celebrated his 80th birthday with a glider flight. He’s missed only one birthday flight since then. “The tow plane takes us up to 3,000 feet before releasing the cable,” Abrams said. “Then the tow plane goes to the left, and we go to the right and look for updrafts. The pilot is in the back seat and the student, me, is in the front seat.”

Bob Abrams (front) is shown ready to take off on his 95th birthday glider flight on July 31, 2018. (Photo by Gary Cook)

With no engine, the glider falls the entire time — except it falls less when it catches an updraft. If the pilot notices circling hawks, that’s an indicator of an updraft.

When others learn about Abrams glider flight birthday tradition, they say, “That takes lot of courage.” He always responds, “It’s a lot of fun.”

“Bob is a wonderful example of a servant of God,” said the Rev. Dr. Ray Jones III, director of Theology, Formation and Evangelism. “He continues to serve the Presbyterian Men with wisdom, faithfulness, and grace. I always enjoy his presence.”

Abrams is currently looking for another volunteer to serve in the national office of PC(USA) Presbyterian Men two days a week, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Although it is an unpaid position, the cost of parking across the street in the Witherspoon garage is reimbursed. For more information about volunteering with Presbyterian Men, contact Abrams (Tuesdays or Wednesdays, 9 a.m.–2 p.m. Eastern Time) at 502-569-5435.

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