The pastor raises the Ekklesia in the retirement community
By Rachel Eldridge
Pastor Bob Brooke used to joke that ‘retirement’ wasn’t in the Bible, until he realized Leviticus is about priests getting too old to care for animals necessary for the sacrifices. “Now I say there is no word for retirement in the New Testament,” he jokes.
Bob practices what he preaches. He and his wife Barbara hold a weekly Sunday service in the retirement community where they reside. Grace Pointe Living is an independent living community for adults age fifty-five and older in Moore, Oklahoma. Although its residents are active and totally independent, they don’t always have a car or the ability to get to church easily.
The Grace Pointe community director approached Bob one day, remembering that he was a retired pastor, and asked him if he would like to offer a program. The community already had a weekly Bible study, but they could consider worship, maybe even a Grace Pointe choir.
Bob and Barbara have been praying for this opportunity and they have been faithfully holding Grace Pointe’s weekly Sunday service since February of this year. Bob explained that he is careful not to call it a church service because it is not their goal to start a church, but the gathering is actually taking place at a church sanctuary. Interestingly enough, Grace Pointe Living developed apartment suites inside a church building that they purchased and renovated, leaving the original sanctuary intact.
Pensioners gather here for Sunday service, which includes hymns and songs of worship, scripture reading and devotion, and prayer. Bob intends to keep the service around thirty minutes, knowing that it can be difficult to sit in chairs for longer periods as people get older. “But the Spirit of God animates us,” says Bob. “We come together to deepen our faith in Christ, pursuing the love of God and the love of others as followers of Jesus.”
Barbara started a coffee and donut pre-service community, which gives residents of the community time to chat and connect before worship. The Sunday service also gives other residents the opportunity to continue using their gifts, including a pianist, vocal coach, substitute pianist and many singers.
“It was amazing to see how God provides,” says Barbara. “We have enough singers for a quartet…maybe not yet a choir, but a quartet!
“It’s the Lord’s business, not ours,” says Bob. “I want our community to feel like this is their service – our service.” As other retired pastors and interested people move in, “I just show up and watch what the Lord is doing!”
“He’s such a great God and he works in a big way. I think of some of the big congregations there – and we’re here, a small group of people, not even a real church, and we’re having as much fun in the Lord as they are!
Prior to retiring, Bob served in full-time ministry for decades, pastoring many different Church of God congregations, as well as pastoring other churches and as as a U.S. Army chaplain.
After such long seasons of ministry, “Many retired pastors can sit like me after I retire, wondering, ‘Now what?!’ And that’s it!” Bob said. “If you think your work is done for the Lord, you can’t get up yet. We’re still needed, and as long as we have a body and a head on the shoulders, let’s continue to serve.
The Brookes’ eagerness to serve the Lord and His people is an exhortation to believers at every stage of life. As Bob says, “It’s about looking around and seeing where you are and what God would have you do.”
Rachel Eldridge is a freelance writer who attends First Church of God in New Albany, Indiana.
Learn more about the Church of God movement at www.JesusIsTheSubject.org.
Feature photo (top): Bob and Barbara Brooke rejoice in their new ministry setting.