In the Fall of 2005, the older adults of Benton UMC reorganized and named themselves the OPALS – Older People with Active Life Styles. Pastor Cheryl fondly refers to them as the “gems” of the church. The program is designed for the 55+ age group, but everyone is welcome to any of their gatherings. They meet the fourth Tuesday of each month, except December, in the Family Life/Worship Center at 11:30 a.m. There is usually a program or Bingo with prizes, and there is always a delicious meal prepared by Joann Horton and Sandra Upshaw, for the nominal cost of $5. Contact Peggy Rumbaugh at (318) 349-1465 to reserve your spot.
The programs have varied over the years with square dancers and vocalists, poetry readings and art exhibits (with paintings done by the OPALS themselves); times of sharing mementos from childhood or wedding days or favorite vacations; book reviews and demonstrations. Most of the programs are entertaining, but some are informative or educational, geared especially for the older adult. On occasion, they will take a road trip to Tyler or Natchitoches; or spend a day in Shreveport, visiting museums and places of interest. A favorite outing is going to the Robinson Theatre for the “silver screen” movie and luncheon.
OPALS offers wonderful opportunities for the older adults to gather for fun and fellowship. There is always a devotional thought and time for prayer requests, so there is a spiritual connection, as well. It has become an outreach of the church as members have invited guests from all denominations and they have discovered the love and support of Christian unity.
As a member of Benton UMC, you can be very proud of this older adult ministry – tell others about it and invite anyone who is looking for a fun-loving, Christian group where they can spend some quality time with a community of believers.