Seniors acting in a nativity scene

Partnering Together Through Generations

By Dan Carlton

Culpeper Baptist Church (CBC) was in the delivery room when Virginia Baptist Homes (now Lifespire of Virginia) was born! The Culpeper has been a significant part of the church’s ministry since 1948, and what a rich faith tapestry we have woven together in these many decades since then!

In 2016, CBC partnered with The Culpeper to share a staff position. This collaboration resulted in the call of part-time senior adult pastor, Hans Murdock, at CBC who also serves as the part-time chaplain at The Culpeper. While partnering together in this way represented “thinking outside the box” for both CBC and The Culpeper, it has accommodated quite nicely the expansion of our long and fruitful ministry to senior adults.

We had three primary goals for the partnership. First, we wanted to provide spiritual care to senior adults and the staff of The Culpeper. We also desired to engage seniors in outreach to the surrounding community at large. Finally, we wanted both communities to be part of multigenerational outreach. With those thoughts in mind, we concentrated our early efforts toward building positive relationships with agencies, organizations and groups in and around Culpeper that focus on the specific needs and challenges senior adults face. We also talked with our own respective constituents who provided a wealth of information and ideas.

It is a real pleasure for me to share with you about several ministries, though still in their infancy, that will reach out to senior adults in need of assistance who live within the greater Culpeper area as well as speak to the multi-generational model.

Homebound Food Delivery

First, homebound senior adult food delivery is a recent ministry we began late this spring in conjunction with The Culpeper. It allows us to partner with another local congregation, the US Department of Agriculture and the Department of Social Services to coordinate a once-a-month Friday food distribution program within the greater Culpeper community to senior adults who qualify financially. This is an excellent example of a partnership that “checks all the boxes.”

The program identifies senior adults who need assistance and provides seniors from The Culpeper and members and friends of differing ages from our church and community an opportunity to engage in needed, meaningful ministry. It also offers the opportunity for believers to live out in a practical way the oneness of the Spirit that Jesus so passionately desires!


Day trips and out-of-town trips are another way we partner with The Culpeper to provide a means through which we build one-on-one relationships and goodwill in the broader senior adult community. These well-publicized treks are open to everyone. A recent day trip to the National Cathedral this past spring comes readily to mind. Approximately 30 percent of the folks who took advantage of this trip were not associated with The Culpeper or Culpeper Baptist Church in any way. As unlikely as it seems, this activity provided an opportunity for folks to learn more about people of faith as well as life in a retirement community in a non-confrontational way. It also opened the door to new friendships.

“Faith Webbing”

“Faith webbing” is another method we are using to build relationships between different generations. We challenge our senior adults and our youth to purposefully meet and get to know one another!

Three classic models come to mind. For the past two years, CBC has partnered with The Culpeper and friends from several other local churches to provide Vacation Bible School at the retirement community. Doing so brings more people, especially children, to visit and spend time having fun with the residents, some of whom get out very little because of health issues. It also provides a rich opportunity for us to build relationships between congregations.

In the same vein, the Fifth Sunday Hymn Sing is another way we reach out to senior adults that allows them to influence younger generations with their real-life stories. Music is a universal language, and senior adults have a rich well of spiritual tradition from which to draw! In addition, the hymn sing makes it possible for the community of faith to come, share their musical talents, offer encouragement and delve into the treasure chest of experience from senior adults who are maturing in their faith.

Lastly, our partnership with The Culpeper to present the Senior Christmas Pageant offers seniors an occasion to try out their acting skills, tell the Christmas story to the broader community that otherwise might not be interested, interact with several generations at the same time, and have some good, old-fashioned fun.

Aging Together Conference

We also offer an Aging Together Conference. This event brings together a number of community resources to educate and minister to the unique issues and challenges senior adults face. Working together with community groups, agencies and departments, we help to “draw a tighter web” in an effort to catch the senior adults that might otherwise live in need in our community. Paramount to this conference, we also seek to identify resources available for caregivers and other friends to help them realize they are not alone in this responsibility. While this is by no means an exhaustive list, we believe it is a solid foundation on which to build as we continue to partner with The Culpeper, local congregations, and community entities to enrich the lives of senior adults in this area as we live out the Gospel every day.

Dan Carlton is senior pastor at Culpeper Baptist Church and a member of LifeSpire of Virginia’s Board of Trustees. Joyce Beales, CBC’s senior adult volunteer administrator, and Hans Murdock, The Culpeper’s chaplain and CBC’s senior adult pastor, also contributed to this story.