Then there’s 96-year-old Bob Abrams, who celebrates his birthdays aboard a glider
February 23, 2020
The Rev. Robert “Bob” W. Abrams brings joy to his colleagues at the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) headquarters in Louisville.
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,” the Rev. Dr. J. Herbert Nelson, II, Stated Clerk of the General Assembly, said during a “Coffee with the Clerk” interview with Abrams in 2018. “We give thanks for people like Bob who have lived a life of faithfulness to Almighty God.”
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 formally 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 & 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.”
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 & Evangelism. “He continues to serve the Presbyterian Men with wisdom, faithfulness and grace. I always enjoy his presence.”
Tammy Warren, Communications Associate, Presbyterian Mission Agency
Revised Common Lectionary Readings for Sunday, February 23, 2020, the Transfiguration of the Lord (Year A)
Today’s Focus: 96-year-old Bob Abrams
Let us join in prayer for:
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Let us pray:
Loving God, we pray for the Rev. Robert W. “Bob” Abrams and Presbyterian Men. Thank you for the vision and guidance you give to them. Amen.