Growing together, generations apart


Church group tries untraditional activities to unify older, younger members

By Jonathan E. Coleman
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At first glance, anyone driving past Roberta United Methodist Church Saturday might have thought they had traveled back in time. Exactly how far back would be up for debate.

In front of the church’s fellowship hall sat six antique cars, with several curiously-dressed people gathered around talking. One woman wore a poodle skirt and a scarf in her hair. Another donned a brightly-colored miniskirt and sported a 1980s hairdo.

Crecia Keller, a member of the church’s young adult class, helped organize the gathering, dubbed Second Chance Prom.

“We’re trying to bridge the gap between the younger group and the older,” she said. “That’s really the purpose of the whole thing, building that unity.”

The “prom” gave the church congregation an opportunity to come together in the spirit of fun.

Participants were encouraged to “wear their favorite decade” and could even have formal “prom” photos taken by a professional photographer.

In the spirit of the event, snacks included RC Cola and Moonpies, and decorations included old high school yearbooks, photos and other memorabilia.

But the highlight of the event for many was the classic cars.

“My dad goes here and he has antique cars,” Keller said. “A lot of the guys here do.”

It’s something that the older and younger generations both really seem to enjoy, and something that can bring the two groups together, she said.

For Eddie Taylor, whose grandfather was a founding member of the now 102-year-old church, the event was a great success.

“I think it’s a wonderful thing,” he said. “We need more young people in our church. We need to do more to bring them together.”

Now a grandfather himself, Taylor said he sees the need to get more young people involved in the church.

“We always try to see their side of things because that’s the church of tomorrow,” he said. “If we don’t change, we won’t grow.”

Taylor said the church has about 300 members, but it is always looking for new ways to grow and reach new people, young and old alike. Events like the second chance prom show prospective church members that there is plenty of fun to be had at Roberta United Methodist Church, and plenty of opportunity to build relationships within the church.

“Sometimes I think it takes something like this, or bigger, on a regular basis, to draw more people,” he said. “It’s hard to know what to do to get more people involved, but I think our congregation will be open to (more) events like this.”

And that’s a good thing, Keller said, because she hopes to make the event an annual gig.

“We had a lot of people that couldn’t make it and they were upset that they couldn’t,” she said. “We wish that more people had attended but that is fine. We were able to bring together the older and younger generations to have a great time.”

• Contact Jonathan E. Coleman at 704-789-9105.

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