By Rev. Chuck Yarborough
In 1999, 12 retired seniors met to start a new church under the leadership of two retired minister, Revs Charles and M. Linda Yarborough. It was tough going for a while. In fact it took us three months to raise $400 to open a bank account. We met each Sunday in a room provided by Continental Country Club, home to many of our members.
This is not a community with tons of money…they are beautiful people who have worked hard all their lives.
We started a men’s group called ROMEOS (Retired Old Men Eating Out). The ROMEOS appointed John Miller, a “snowbird” from Cooperstown, NY, to be our leader. Since most of our members live in Continental Country Club and The Villages and play on the beautiful golf courses, John saw an opportunity and the ROMEOS began to raise money with golf tournaments during the five winter months. It worked. All the money raised would be used to help kids. Two $1,000 scholarships are given each year to the Wildwood Florida High School and the remaining funds help underprivileged kids and provide scholarships to the Disciples camp at Ocala, Fla. In 2013, the ROMEOS sponsored over 80 kids to attend summer camp. (Photo above includes both ROMEOS and their golf guests.)
THE STORY CONTINUES: In April, some of the ROMEOS visited the Disciples Conference Center and presented their annual camp scholarship check to Rev. Mary Beth Harper, the camp director. This year’s check was in the amount of $10,000 for the 2014 campers. Over the past 8 years the ROMEOS have given camp scholarships in the amount of $39,600.00
We believe this can happen to many other Disciples Men groups. Call us, we are open to share with other church groups how we accomplished our goals. WE ARE BLESSED. I don’t know why God has blessed Linda and me to pastor such a loving and mission minded church as this new church has become, but we’re so glad God did. ) In biblical terms, “it came to pass.”) At age 83 we’re about ready to hang it up, but we sure envy the new pastor who will replace us. He, or she is in for a beautiful life.
THE STORY CONTINUES: (…We just don’t know where it’s going .)
Since we started in a gated community (55 and older), we decided our ministry would be mostly to retired seniors. We soon became known as a “Seniors Church.” Over 50 percent of our members had not attended church in over 30 years. Many of these are now actively committed and serving as elders and deacons. Ninety percent of our members attend worship every Sunday. Within two years we had grown to 40 members. As of this date we have received 235 new members.
In our third year we were chartered and we purchased property to build a new church building. Disciples Church Extension Fund shared our vision and we took that leap of faith to build a sanctuary that seats 188 people. The church is filled most every Sunday during the winter months.
We started a Disciples Women group that is doing outstanding work; visiting our shut-ins, hospital, nursing homes and celebrating birthdays for those who are shut in. A few weeks ago we had a Blessing Box Sunday and they gave over $1,000.