Retirees renew friendships – ‘It’s good to be together!’


November 17, 2014

Click here to see images from the Retirees and spouses gathering

Click here to listen to Rev. Neill Cross describe 'what it's like to be a retiree.'

Click here to listen to Rev. Bob Burkhart talk about 'feeling connected for a while' through the Retirees and spouses gatherings

“It’s good to be together,” said Rev. Dennis Tevis of the 2014 fall Retirees’ gathering.  “It’s important to the retirees to get to see their friends and have time to sit and talk to them and catch up,” added Jo Campney.

The annual event, held on October 28, at New Hope United Methodist Church, Des Moines, brought together more than one hundred retired and clergy and spouses for a day of renewing friendships and information sharing.  The speaker for the event was Rob Dillard of Iowa Public Radio.

Rev. Bill Poland, Assistant to the Bishop for Administration, greeted the retirees and spouses, reminding them that sometimes “seeds are planted” in ministry, ones that “will bear fruit years later.” 

Rev. Craig Ferguson, associate at New Hope and lead Pastor of River of Life United Methodist Church, talked about the beginnings of the new faith community in Johnston.  He described River of Life reached out to young families before weekly services began and how others who weren’t part of a faith community have found connections through RoL’s personal approach to faith and service.

Until June 2014 Rev. Neil Cross was lead Pastor at New Hope.  He said, “It’s really kind of fun” to be a retiree.  Looking around the Family Life Center, where the Retiree gathering was held he added, “I feel a sense of accomplishment.  We were able to do a lot of things together at New Hope.”  For Cross, as a new retiree, the twice-a-year events are important “to make connections with the other ministers – to have a sense that you’re not in it alone.  Sometimes, when you’re retired, when you’re active in ministry, you have all these natural connections in your local church. But, when you’re retired those kind of go away.  At these events you have a chance to get together to share conversation with others and catch up with what’s going on.”

For Rev. Dennis Tevis, also newly-retired, the gathering “makes it real.  There are a few folks from this year’s retirement class who I retired with. Others I’ve known for many years. It’s good to be together – it’s what we have in common the work that we’ve done in the ministry.”

Jo Campney, retiree spouse, has been attending Retiree events for many years since the passing of her husband, Rev. Arthur Campney.  “I get to see people,” she said, “who I wouldn’t see any other time.”

Rev. Bob Burkhart retired in 2013, having served, for the second time, as Assistant to the Bishop for Administration.  “Because of the time and circumstances of retirement, many people don’t get to see the people that they’ve worked with on districts and sub-districts in churches together,” he noted.  “The human factor is important.”  Echoing Rev. Neil Cross’ comment about connections, Rev. Burkhart added, “When you retire it’s easy to feel disconnected and this way you feel, at least here, and one at the Annual Conference session, that the church cares about you and the Bishop cares about you and that you know what’s going on and you feel connected for a while. You feel valued.”

Rob Dillard, of Iowa Public Radio News, was the guest speaker.  On special assignment since 2011, Dillard talked about how combining the news operations of Iowa’s public radio stations gave him an opportunity to travel across the state and tell the stories of “Being in Iowa.”

Joni Mardesen, Director of Human Resources, met with the group in the afternoon to answer questions about insurance and other financial concerns.

Rev. Bill Poland summarized the day by telling the Retirees and spouses, “Your being here is a gift to me, a gift to each other, and a gift to the church.”