Among the ways and places for seniors to get together and gather in fellowship is the Coalition of Senior Partners.
Initiated in 1990 by Bill Jenkins and the Rev. Richard Hollingsworth of Presbyterian Central Church in Waxahachie, this secular group was built on the foundation of creating a small social event for senior citizens to gather as one.
In January 1991, Jenkins and Hollingsworth sent formal letters to more than 50 churches about creating this particular group, according to president Leo Schumacher.
“The letters just explained what they wanted to do and how they planned to get the group started,” Schumacher said, noting the letters laid the groundwork for the plans ahead.
“An organizational meeting was later held to get input from people as to what they were interested in as far as the group’s interests,” he said. “At our first get-together at First Christian Church in March 1991, we had about 50 people to show up, which was a pretty good response.”
Schumacher said by the looks of it, the group has continued its strength through the 17 years since.
“I’ve been organizing this group since 1992 and my wife and I really enjoy it,” Schumacher said. “Our gatherings create good feelings with good evenings of fun.”
The group has nearly 60 members, with at least 35 to 50 showing up the fourth Friday of every month for gatherings at Central Presbyterian Church, First Baptist Church, South Prong Baptist Church or St. Joseph Catholic Church.
“We tend to have a good turnout each time we come together, depending on which church we’re gathering at,” Schumacher said. “What we offer at our gathering is a covered dish type meal and entertainment for our guests. We usually start at 5 p.m. and eat at 5:30 p.m. If we have a really good program, it could last until about 7.”
The entertainment is provided once a month by Serenity, a group of two women; Dave Eder and the Final Showdown Band; Irish singer Pat Moriarty; or opera singer Kristin Tallett.
“We try to limit the entertainment to at least four or five acts so they can schedule to come back to visit us again,” Schumacher said.
Each meeting varies with the attendance, with Schumacher noting the more people that attend, the more likely the word will get out in the community.
“One meeting, we had 17 churches to attend, with four newcomers so this is just a good way to meet new people,” he said. “There are around 10 or 11 church representatives that show up month after month for the meetings but the largest number we’ve had so far was 17 churches. Just last month, we had 52 people to show up.”
Marie Schumacher agrees with her husband that the group is a good way for seniors to come together.
“Everyone just comes out to mingle with each other and that really brings a good feeling among everyone,” she said. “It’s a good mixture of religions but we’re all there for the same reason. Overall, it’s just really nice.”
Leo and Marie are members of St. Joseph Catholic Church but stress that all faiths are invited.
“All denominations are welcomed to come just as long as they come and have a good time,” Marie said. “We want to get more people to come out, whether as partners or single.”
The group’s ultimate goal is to get people together in a social atmosphere and to create solid harmony between the different churches.
“I think people just like to get together and interact with others besides their regular church groups,” Leo said. “We’ve made an awful lot of friends there that we probably would’ve never met if it hadn’t been for this group, and we’re very pleased with it.”
The next meeting is at 5 p.m., Friday, July 27, at South Prong Baptist Church, located at 101 Sunnyside Drive.
Moriarty will provide the entertainment and guests are asked to bring a dish to share.
For more information, contact Schumacher at (972) 923-2623.
E-mail Chicarra at email@example.com