Singles struggle to find place, value

Singles gather at Riverchase United Methodist to fellowship and discuss their ministry opportunities within the church. (Contributed)

By CHRISTINE BOATWRIGHT / Staff Writer

After either graduating into single adulthood or facing a state of singleness after being married, many faithful church-goers struggle to find their place within the walls of the church.

Jay Gordon, the pastor of small groups at Westwood Baptist Church in Calera, faces the difficulties of developing and maintaining a vibrant singles’ ministry.

“We’ve tried different things at different times,” Gordon said. “It is a struggle. The hardest thing about singles’ ministries is that there’s so much transition. About the time you build up a ministry, some get married. It’s a mobile age group, especially the group of 20-year-olds.

“You work hard to build up a group, but there’s a lot of transition,” he added.

Westwood offers different Sunday morning classes to singles, divided by age.

“Mainly, we have a goal as a church to help people become growing disciples of Jesus Christ,” Gordon said. “That’s a common thread between preschoolers and senior adults. With singles, we try to meet specific needs. Divorce care is very important for that particular group of folks.”

Patti Copeland is the director of adult ministries for Riverchase United Methodist Church in Hoover. Copeland, after being married for many years, found herself divorced and suddenly single in a church society that focused on children and married adults, unsure how to minister to single adults.

Copeland, now remarried, felt a need to create a safe place for Christian singles to mingle and fellowship. She began by contacting surrounding churches, looking for “little pockets of singles” to whom she could minister.

“I wanted to get a group effort going,” she said, “not just my church. I wanted to grow the validity of a single person in the church and give them the opportunity to serve and contribute.

“Singles are viable and have a lot to offer to the church,” she added,” but they’re often set aside as not as valuable.”

The message of the ministry reaches past generation gaps, as similar issues of singleness affect adults from age 20 to 70.

“Just because you’re single doesn’t mean you have to talk ‘woe is me,'” Copeland said. “A lot of things are the same things across the generations. You have to get out in the world.”

The group focuses on questions such as “Is it OK to stay single?” and “How do I fix that leak?” The last question spurred Copeland into encouraging single women to participate in Habitat for Humanity or classes at Home Depot.

“A lot of 30-year-old single women have the courage to visit the Home Depot for classes, but 60-year-old women may not be as brave,” Copeland said. “They’ve always had someone to do their ‘honey-do’ list.”

Copeland strives to offer a place for singles to come for encouragement.

“They’ve still got worth and value in the church and community,” she said. “Jesus met us where we were when we were saved, and now we’re trying to do the same thing.”

For more information on the singles’ ministries of Westwood Baptist Church, call the church at 664-0122 or visit Wwbc.org. The singles’ ministry of Riverchase United Methodist Church meet every second Thursday at 6:30 p.m. for Singles’ Impact Ministry. Call Copeland at 987-4030 ext. 347, or email patti@riverchaseumc.org for more information.