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Tickner charges ARMSS/POAMN conference to ‘Follow Jesus with your dreams’

Annual awards banquet and closing worship conclude national gathering

by Emily Enders Odom | Presbyterian News Service

From left to right: Tom Tickner, David McCollum, Annie Tarbutton lead closing worship. (Photo by Emily Enders Odom)

From left to right: Tom Tickner, David McCollum, Annie Tarbutton lead closing worship. (Photo by Emily Enders Odom)

RICHMOND, Va. – The message couldn’t have been any clearer—not only the message of the Rev. Tom Tickner’s closing sermon on Oct. 14, but also the underlying message at the heart of the entire ARMSS/POAMN national conference.

“These conferences are not just times to gain information, they are times to dream, and a privilege to see how that dream will be lived out when we go home,” Tickner said toward the end of his sermon entitled, “Living as the Beloved,” based on John 21:1-19.

Tickner, minister of spiritual life at Grace Presbyterian Village in Dallas, Texas, served as conference preacher for the national event, which was jointly sponsored by the Association of Retired Ministers, Their Spouses or Survivors (ARMSS) and the Presbyterian Older Adult Ministries Network (POAMN).

Now in its 20th year, the 2016 conference, themed Christian Discipleship: People of the Spirit, People of Hope, was held October 11- 14. Through a wide variety of workshops, presentations, worship, fellowship, recreation and mission tours, the 140 attendees dedicated to the work of older adult ministry were inspired and equipped to quite literally bring the message and their dreams home.

Following the lead of other conference speakers and workshop leaders, Tickner began his closing sermon with a poignant personal illustration—a story of his father-in-law’s inability to live independently after his wife’s death.

“He moved from place to place, and nothing felt like home,” Tickner said. “Home was where he found value…love…life. Now my father-in-law was in a new place. Was it a place where he could feel not just existence, but life? Only time would tell. Or was this a time when his dreams had died?”

Tickner then asked the gathering, “Have you ever had a dream die?”

Turning to the New Testament text, Tickner spoke of the disciple Peter’s own low points in life, wondering whether Peter’s dreams had died with his denials or “had died that day on the cross.”

“Were Peter’s dreams gone?” asked Tickner. “Are our dreams gone?”

Tickner concluded that Peter’s dreams may have come back to life while fishing with Jesus, as the preacher invited worshipers to imagine Peter “leaping into the water and bounding toward his dream once again.”

“I think we’re being sent into a world that needs dreamers, a world that needs imagination, gratitude,” he said, as he wondered aloud whether everyone’s dreams would be left behind in Richmond following the conference. “We are called to live in the world, but not to see the world as our source of life, for the world and its strategies may help you survive, but not live.”

Tickner said that Jesus’ final instruction at the conclusion of the passage in John’s gospel “is the essence of simplicity and brilliance—the clearest picture of what ‘yes’ looks like.”

“The thing that can bring the most magnificent dream to life comes in [Jesus’] two words, ‘Follow me,’” said Tickner. “We are invited to follow the lover into the fullness of life. Do you hear Jesus speaking? Do you love me? Follow me. Follow me from Richmond back to your place of ministry. Follow me with all of your dreams. Follow me to living your dreams as the life of the beloved.”

Tickner was joined in worship leadership by David McCollum of Rumple Memorial Presbyterian Church, Blowing Rock, North Carolina, conference musician; Annie Tarbutton, POAMN conference chair, liturgist; Betsy McElmurray, accompanist; and JoAnn Simmers, soloist.

Henry Simmons and Jan McGilliard. (Photo by Emily Enders Odom)

Henry Simmons and Jan McGilliard. (Photo by Emily Enders Odom)

On the previous evening, Oct. 13, the conference celebrated its own dreamers—recipients of the Certificate of Appreciation for Distinguished Leadership Service, the ARMSS 2016 Certificate of Merit, and the POAMN 2016 Legacy Award—at its annual banquet award ceremony.

Recipients of the ARMSS Certificate of Merit are nominated annually by their respective presbyteries “for contributions to the mission of the presbytery following retirement, for the continued commitment to the work of the presbytery, and the witnessing of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” The three 2016 recipients were the Rev. Harry Charles Meissner, Grace Presbytery; the Rev. Dr. G. Dana Water II, Sheppards and Lapsley Presbytery; and the Rev. Dr. Robert C. Worley, in memoriam.

The POAMN Legacy Award is “presented to a person or to a group of individuals or organization actively leaving a living legacy for future generations through word and deed in ways affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). This legacy leaving work should be unique or special in some way, positive in nature, kingdom building and done by an individual or individuals aged 60+.”

The two 2016 recipients were the Rev. Douglas Kurtz, president and CEO of United Adult Ministries, Flushing, New York, and Henry Simmons, Ph.D., Richmond, Virginia.

Simmons, whose distinguished career in ministry has included service as professor of Religion and Aging and director of the Center of the on Aging at the former Presbyterian School of Christian Education—now Union Presbyterian Seminary—in Richmond, Virginia, received his award from Jan McGilliard, POAMN’s outgoing Certification Leader.

“We’ve never had a truth and reconciliation committee in this country, and we’ve never had truth and reconciliation,” he said, after receiving the honor. “I think we [older adults] could be a force to make that happen. As older adults, we can reclaim leadership and tell the truth—these people are not poor because they’re lazy or stupid; they’re poor because we have set up unjust structures.”

As his moving acceptance speech continued, Simmons told the gathering that “change matters.”

“We as older adults are capable of being agents of change—I’m almost 79,” said Simmons. “Change matters. You are change agents, and change is the work of the gospel.”

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For information on the 7th International Conference on Ageing and Spirituality, to be held June 4-7, 2017, at Concordia University, Chicago, Illinois—at which POAMN will be supporting and co-sponsoring the congregational track featuring the Rev. Dr. Eileen W. Lindner and the Rev. Dr. John Buchanan—visit the conference website.

Creative_Commons-BYNCNDYou may freely reuse and distribute this article in its entirety for non-commercial purposes in any medium. Please include author attribution, photography credits, and a link to the original article. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDeratives 4.0 International License.


Creative_Commons-BYNCNDYou may freely reuse and distribute this article in its entirety for non-commercial purposes in any medium. Please include author attribution, photography credits, and a link to the original article. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDeratives 4.0 International License.

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