Above: BVC President Bill Pierce gives a report at the recent Oklahoma Baptists board meeting. He has been serving as BVC president for 32 years.
To better help Oklahoma Baptist churches meet the increasing needs of senior adults within the local church and to minister to those outside of the church, Baptist Village Communities (BVC) has announced the establishment of the “Bill and Susan Pierce Institute for Transforming Life Expectancies.”
“When looking at today’s congregation, it is easy to let one’s mind wander to the thoughts of tomorrow’s younger generation and not include adults over the age of 65,” said Dennis Curtis, BVC board chair. “A healthy church moving forward should embrace people of all life stages and ages. The Pierce Institute was created to help individuals understand that while they age and may have retired from work, they did not retire from life.”
Named for the 32-year BVC president, Bill Pierce, and his wife Susan, the Institute will collaborate with individuals, families and volunteers to help connect them to God, one another, and the local church. The Institute will work closely with church leadership in the areas of evangelism, discipleship and ministry.
“I love the words ‘transforming life expectancies,’” Pierce said. “We need to rethink aging and consider how the world is influencing our perception. I love it when I see people of every age using their spiritual gifts to serve the Lord in and through the church.”
The launch of the Pierce Institute comes at a time of significant transition in aging in America. By the year 2034, people in the United States age 65 or older will outnumber children younger than 18 for the first time, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. That transition could occur much earlier in Oklahoma.
Because of this changing dynamic, a one-size-fits-all approach to senior adult ministry will likely no longer work, resulting in a need for churches to re-evaluate how they minister to this increasing segment of society.
“It has been a blessing to have Billy and Susan Pierce in my life for over 40 years,” Curtis said in making the announcement. “From guiding the youth in a small Oklahoma town to ministering to senior adults throughout the state, their consistent love and compassion for others has always been foremost in their lives. Always following Christ and putting their faith into practice, it is only fitting they are honored through this new ministry endeavor so vital to the senior community.”
Through BVC, Oklahoma Baptist churches are part of the largest not-for-profit provider of senior adult housing and services in Oklahoma with 1,381 residents living at 11 campuses across the state. Another 995 elders are served weekly through BVC’s home health care provider, Entrusted Hearts.
“Susan and I are encouraged to know the Institute will enlarge the impact of BVC through educating and training those who perform frontline ministry to senior adults,” Pierce said. “We are pleased it so perfectly aligns with the Baptist Village mission of ‘Serving God, Serving You, Serving Together.’
The symbolism of the logo
The tree represents growth and maturity. The Cross represents the foundational Christian beliefs from which the Institute was birthed and from which it functions. The Cross half in and half out of the tree represents reaching those within and outside the local church.
We grow from our Christian foundation which is reflected in the limbs and foliage of the tree. The limbs reveal our ability for depth and reach while the leaves illustrate the numerous groups we can impact, both large and small, whether long-time, new, or non-Christian, of all demographics.
A tree is in a state of constant change, as are we. Every day is an opportunity, regardless of age, for the believer to grow in the Lord. Every day is an opportunity to use our spiritual gifts to serve the Lord and advance the Gospel.
“Transforming Life Expectancies.”