Photo by Sue Watson
Catherine Payne, 99, of Holly Springs, was the oldest in attendance.

Photos by Sue Watson
The kitchen committee provided and served the food for about 800 people during Senior Citizens Day at St. Paul MB Chruch.

Photos by Sue Watson
Rev. Bruce McMillan, pastor of Christ Episcopal Church of Holly Springs, told senior citizens to “tell them (the children) your stories about the Depression, the war stories.”

Pauline Fitts, 90, of Byhalia, and Celesia Cowans.

Senior Citizens Day

• McMillan delivers message

Bruce McMillan, pastor of Christ Episcopal Church, was guest speaker for the third annual Marshall County Senior Citizens Day and urged seniors to share their stories with children.

Close to 800 people attended the event at St. Paul MB Church in Byhalia, with an estimated 430 or more signing in as seniors.

“A great concern of mine in my ordained life is I’ve always had a heart for those marginalized in our society, the young and the seniors,” McMillan said.

The people in midlife are busy earning a living and are too busy to give attention to the most vulnerable, the very young and the old, he said.

He used his mother, 98, as a personal example of living a purposeful life.

“She didn’t get here because she had to go get her hair fixed,” said McMillan, laughing. “But I’ll take her that $100 (in the gift envelopes being handed out).”

McMillan has served 22 years in Holly Springs. He said, with another laugh, that he is getting to feel like a part of the community. Prior to coming to Holly Springs, he was minister at a very large metropolitan church in Memphis, Tenn.

He then drilled down to his message.

“The young are growing up in the meanest world anyone has had to grow up in,” McMillan said. “The world is absolutely out to devour our young generation. You (seniors) can help them survive, because you did.”

Seniors may feel they are pushed aside to retire, he said, and get ready to leave.

He told the story of Edith, an 89-year-old widow with no living family who had all the joint replacements she could have and finally was resigned to the nursing home. McMillan and Edith became friends and he visited her often and became her conservator.

Edith was very courageous but at age 93 he visited her and she was not her usual self.

“You don’t have to hear about it,” she told her pastor. “I just don’t feel like there is any purpose left in life. I used to be so active in church.”

“That church is just four walls,” McMillan reminded her. “You can lie in this bed all day and pray. I can bring you the (prayer) list.”

Edith took the charge seriously and from that day forward everyone knew she was praying every day for someone.

Edith died at age 101, having fulfilled her cup of life to the brim and running over.

“Everyone kept talking about Edith’s prayers,” McMillan said. “You just have to look to see what you can do. Maybe you can do nothing physically, but you can pray.”

Seniors can give hope, especially to the children, the same hope followers get from God the Father.

“The same hope we are going to pass on to them,” he said.

McMillan said his mother was bounced upon the knees of Civil War veterans. He grew up in a church whose seniors were nursed by former slaves.

“We have stories to tell them – how we inherited the color of our hair, the shade of our skin, the spectrum of our eyes,” he said.

His mother may not remember what she ate for lunch, but she does remember the tiniest details of what happened and what she did at age 10. He gave her a book and asked her to write her memories – or they would be lost forever.

“Tell them (the children) your stories about the Depression, the war stories. They can’t get that out of a history book,” McMillan said. “Tell them about your history. Be the person you needed when you were young.

“It’s a mean world these children have to live in. They are dying to know that somebody cares for them. We’ve got something we can give. Don’t ever give up giving.”

His mother and her sister, both in their 80s, were visiting while living in Memphis.

“Mother’s sister said, ‘Kathleen. Can you believe we are in our 80s?’ Mother said, ‘no, inside I feel like I’m 26.’

“It’s the body that is changing around that ageless center that is going to live forever. That’s what God keeps for us.

“Make those children sit down and listen to you. The stuff in those books will be there forever, but you won’t. Your stories will go with them.”

This year’s Senior Citizens Day was provided through the efforts of 15 community churches, 18 corporate sponsors, and 26 individual sponsors.

Host pastor Dr. Andrew Cheairs expressed thanks to those who helped make the day a success for seniors, including the donation, finance, food, hospitality, media and program/entertainment committees.

Holly Springs South Reporter

P.O. Box 278
Holly Springs, MS 38635
PH: (662) 252-4261
FAX: (662) 252-3388
www.southreporter.com

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