Carl Johnson | What's in a name?

Recently my wife and I participated in what we thought would be an easy, non-controversial exercise in choosing a name for a new senior’s ministry at the church we attend.

Guess what? Not so easy … and certainly not without some controversy. Even as I write this article, we’re still trying to decide between two choices.  But I’ll get back to that in a minute.

When we first joined this church in 1985, after moving here from Boise, we discovered that we were among the oldest members of a relatively young church. We really weren’t that old, but now … 28 years later … it has become obvious that we’re not alone in our senior status. But then that’s what happens in an aging population. It sneaks up on you before you know what happened.

So here we are … trying to cope with life’s challenges … and yet recognizing that we’re not alone. And because we’re not alone, we acknowledge that friendships and activities with people our own age are essential to a healthy life-style.

As a result, the seniors in our church congregation decided it was time to organize a group that could both enjoy activities together, as well as serve our community in some meaningful way. But we needed a name. Something that would resonate with “younger” seniors (55-65), but would also capture the essence of who we are.

When we first announced our initial planning meeting, and invited anyone interested in starting a Seniors Ministry to come and help choose a name, not one “younger” senior showed up. Why? According to several people in that age category they just don’t consider themselves as seniors … yet. And they would just as soon not be reminded of their aging status. Frankly, I think they’re in denial.

Perhaps we didn’t do ourselves any favor in hoping to attract these folks when we submitted a list of potential names. For example: Oldies but Goodies, Golden Retrievers, Closer to God, just to name a few. You get the picture. All of these names clearly imply “old” … and ready for the inevitable “sunset” of life.

Frankly, I can’t blame any senior for not wanting to be reminded that they’re getting older. We already know that. What we want is to be respected and given an opportunity to be productive. We still have many good years ahead of us, and most seniors I know look forward to enjoying life to its fullest.

So … what’s in a name? And what will our church seniors choose for its name? We’ve managed to narrow it down to two: Pacesetters and Prime Timers.  Which one would you pick?

I’d love to hear from you. Let me know which one you would choose. And why? I’ll let you know what we decided.


Carl R. Johnson is the community relations director for Kitsap Alliance of Resources for Elders (KARE) in Silverdale.


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