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October 12, 2021

By Clayton L. Smith,, Stilwell, Kansas

In the Fall Season of Life, I enjoy looking back on my life and thanking God for those who encouraged me. God knows we need greater encouragement during these pandemic times! My gratitude for the past moves me forward with hope!

When I graduated from seminary, my first appointment was to serve as an Associate Pastor with Dr. Elbert Cole at Central UMC in Kansas City. I only served with Dr. Cole for 18 months before the Bishop appointed me to the Wesley Foundation Campus Ministry in Rolla. But in that short time, Elbert was a fantastic role model and most encouraging mentor. One of the most exciting ministries that Dr Cole launched was the Shepherd's Center for, by and with older adults. I learned the value and benefits of serving with older adult leaders. Every church I served developed strong older adult leaders and ministries.

Years later, I would help start a Boomer and Older Adult Ministry at Church of the Resurrection. I published a book, Crossroads - Leadership Lessons for the Second Half of Life, that has helped many other churches start older adult/boomer ministries. All this happened I believe because I witnessed and learned from Elbert's passion and concern for older adults!

The Sheperd's Centers of America (50+ Centers across the USA) and the original Kansas City Shepherd's Center are about to celebrate a 50th Anniversary! We are writing a history of this unique and ongoing ministry for the upcoming anniversary. I invite you to contribute your stories to this writing project.

If you have any encouraging stories of Dr. Elbert Cole or the Shepherd's Center ministry please let me know. We would like to hear from you. Join me in "looking back" and giving thanks! If not, I hope you will share with others your encouraging testimonies!

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