The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


It began with a wave

Virginia congregation focuses on those 50 and older

Every Sunday morning, Bradley J. Hales stands in front of Reformation Lutheran Church , Culpeper, Va., and waves to passing cars on Main Street—outreach with interesting results. One man, whose wife and three children left him, stopped to pray with the pastor. Passers-by often come in for worship.

When Hales came from New York to serve at Reformation in northern Virginia almost three years ago, he found a small aging congregation and asked what was the best way to reach out to the community. He decided to develop a strong older adult ministry and he started to wave to passing cars.

Bradley J. Hales
In Culpeper, Va., Bradley J. Hales decided his ministry should begin with a wave. In addition to standing outside Reformation Lutheran Church waving at passers-by, he has concentrated on ministry to seniors.
“I cannot tell you how powerful this [waving] has been,” Hales said. “It’s all about Jesus. We are called to share his love.”

Hales, a short, energetic man bubbling with passion, said the older adult ministry “has brought huge renewal to the congregation.” The number of worshipers at three services has almost tripled from 35 three years ago.

Older adults, Hales said, “are our greatest asset” in an expanding community of 14,500, where many are moving out of congested Washington, D.C., suburbs to a slower pace in a rural area.

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