POAMN invites you to our 2024 conference, May 29-30, in San Diego. Join ministry leaders, chaplains, and lay leaders for fresh perspectives on older adult ministry. Come ready to be inspired with new ideas to implement. Leave with tools to deepen your spiritual connection to serving older adults in your faith community.


W E D N E S D A Y  ,  9  A . M .

In Praise of Gratitude

An oft-overlooked secret to fulfillment in aging is the practice of gratitude. Its benefits are boundless and its contribution to a life of purpose and meaning is incalculable. The medieval German priest and philosopher Meister Eckhart wrote, “If the only prayer you ever say is ‘Thank you,’ it will be enough.” Listen as Dr. Emery Cummins helps us consider the wisdom of Eckhart’s assertion.


W E D N E S D A Y ,  N O O N

The Gift of Age

Best-selling language author Richard Lederer, Ph.D., will share wit and wisdom and information and inspiration about the incredible journey to maturity. He’ll emphasize that being chronologically endowed is an acquisition, not a loss. Dr. Lederer welcomes your questions about grammar and usage, word and phrase origins—any aspect of the English language.  A book signing will follow.


T H U R S D A Y ,  9  A . M .

From Generation to Generation: God’s Mission for Everyone

Throughout Scripture we encounter a God who’s on a mission, and he calls people of every generation to participate in his redemptive purposes for the world. In this talk, André Rocha, director of Missions & Outreach at Solana Beach Presbyterian, will explore the biblical and practical basis for how we are all commissioned, regardless of age, ability and talent, to faithfully and creatively follow God in his mission. 



The breakout sessions will include the following relevant and informative topics. Choose one per session.

S E S S I O N  1 :   W E D N E S D A Y ,  11  A . M .

Bible Journaling: An Intergenerational Connection to God’s Word and Each Other

What started out as an experiment turned into a dynamic community at Weldon Valley Presbyterian Church in Colorado, fostering spiritual growth and connection between the different generations. Learn how journaling blends artistic expression and thoughtful reflection to create fellowship and creative exploration of the Bible’s teachings. 

Speaker: Rev. Denise Shannon


Introduction to The Third Thirty

The Third Thirty is a program for aging wisely, gracefully, spiritually and sensibly. Learn about this resource that you can use to help members of your community leave behind a good legacy.


Speaker: Chris Pomfret

S E S S I O N  2 :   W E D N E S D A Y ,  2  P . M .

A Well-Loved Life: Honoring Our Story, Faith, and Culture in End-of-Life Decision-Making

According to current research, 56 percent of Americans have not communicated their end-of-life wishes to their circle of support. This reality often leads to adverse outcomes at one of life’s most sacred times, including a higher likelihood of dying in a hospital, unwanted and invasive end-of-life treatments, and inadequate pain management throughout the dying process. Explore tools and resources to transform end-of-life planning into a spiritual practice.

Speaker: Zeena Regis

Practical and Spiritual Tools to Support Care Partners Panel Discussion

In early 2023 POAMN and the Association of Partners in Christian Education (APCE) co-produced the Care Partner Toolkit with the contributions of many experts in the field of caregiving. Learn about the toolkit and other resources for supporting caregivers in this panel discussion.

Panelists: Pat Baker & Fran Shelton
Moderator: Miatta Wilson

S E S S I O N  3 :   W E D N E S D A Y ,  3  P . M .

Developing a Dementia Friendly Worship Service for your Community

Nurturing the spiritual health of someone with dementia is an act of Christian love that preserves their dignity and affirms their personhood.  As churches, we have a unique opportunity – indeed, a calling – to respond to this need by finding ways to make worship accessible to people experiencing cognitive change.  In this workshop, you will learn how to create a modified worship service, either in-person or pre-recorded, for your faith community, and view an example that was developed at Point Loma Community Presbyterian Church.

Speakers: Rev. Ben Lindstrom and Elaine Burrell 

Glimpses of Heaven

People are eager to explore and understand what the Scriptures say about heaven. To address this interest, Solana Beach Presbyterian Church’s Mature Adult Ministry hosts a series of classes called “Glimpses of Heaven.” This interactive, small group experience is easily adapted to the characteristics and needs of the participants. The format that can be conducive to transforming our outlook on how we approach the days that God has given us here on earth. Learn how to lead this program in your congregation or community.

Speaker: John Illian 

S E S S I O N  4 :   W E D N E S D A Y ,  4  P . M .

No Senior Left Behind: Addressing Tech Gaps in Online Church Participation

In the modern era, senior adults should no longer be sidelined when it comes to participating in church services, even if they lack internet access. Among these senior adults, nearly half lack internet access, face health issues, and struggle with digital literacy, among other challenges. For those who are homebound or whose church attendance is sporadic due to health issues, these gaps pose significant obstacles. Learn how 11 gaps affect their experience, the challenges each of them presents, and six innovative solutions to overcome these hurdles.

Speaker: Hugh Plappert

Sharing Your Life Story

Younger generations have missed some chapters of history, and folks from one culture may not understand the narrative of another. Learn how to share moments from your life, and the era in which you lived, with others. Review challenges, practice informal storytelling, and learn how to recover photos, documents, and other materials.

Speaker: Taylor Phillips

S E S S I O N  5 :   T H U R S D A Y ,  10  A . M .

Your Life is a Work of Art: A Celebration of People in their 80s & 90s 

Point Loma Community Presbyterian Church initiated a project in 2019 highlighting senior adults in their 80s and 90s. Built on the theme “Your story, our story, God’s story… Be bold!” the project compiled photographic portraits and biographical essays for 22 older adults. The result was a  photography exhibit and book. Learn how the project came to be and explore ways that you may develop a similar project for your faith community.

Speaker: Elaine Burrell

Loneliness: How Faith Communities are Uniquely Positioned to Respond

In 2023, a U.S. Surgeon General Advisory raised the alarm concerning loneliness with a report entitled “Our Epidemic of Loneliness and Isolation”. As with so many other community health concerns, older adults find themselves to be especially vulnerable. Research shows that faith communities are uniquely situated to address the loneliness epidemic. With mindfulness and intentionality, faith communities can use many of the tools they already have in place to address loneliness in meaningful ways to the betterment of the individual, the faith community, and the community at large.

Speaker: Robin Johnson

S E S S I O N  6 :   T H U R S D A Y ,  11  A . M .

Expressions of Older Adult Ministry

Learn about POAMN’s new online resource for older adult ministry launched this year. “Expressions” covers guiding principles for serving older adults, a reformed theology framework, and a multitude of ideas you can implement in your context. Take a glimpse at the instructional videos, interviews with ministry leaders, and written materials available now and hear plans for future components.

Speaker: Miatta Wilson

Personal Journey Through Grief and Dementia

How do we ministry leaders address our own grief and loss in a way that could lead to greater healing in our own lives? Pastor Mike McClenahan will share personally about his own story of childhood grief, death, dementia, and drawing closer as family. 

Speaker: Mike McClenahan

S E S S I O N  7 :   T H U R S D A Y ,  1  P . M .

Where to Live as We Age

Explore the diverse options available to older adults as they navigate the journey of aging. Uncover the benefits, challenges, and considerations associated with aging in place, discuss the amenities and lifestyle offered by senior retirement communities, and explore the importance of rightsizing to match evolving needs and preferences. By the end, you’ll have a deeper understanding of how seniors can make informed decisions to ensure a fulfilling and comfortable aging experience.

Speaker: Jonathan Schwartz


How to Carry the Varieties of Grief

Grief comes from the French word greve, or “burden.” It is an all-consuming, involuntary response (emotional, physical, social, and spiritual) to detachment from someone or something that gives one meaning. It comes in all shapes with sameness and nuances. Understanding the grief (s) one is experiencing provides hints for the ways to “carry the burden” rather than being paralyzed by it. This workshop provides a sacred space to place your burden down, explore its nature, and find the strength to carry it throughout the day.

Speaker: Fran Shelton

S E S S I O N  8 :   T H U R S D A Y ,  2  P . M .

Chaplain Chat

Gather with colleagues serving in retirement communities, hospice organizations, skilled care centers, and more to connect over the special circumstances of serving as a chaplain.

Panelists: Taylor Phillips, Sharon Lao, & Gin Lao

Moderator: Tom Theriault 

Caring for Cancer Patients and Those in Grief in Your Congregation and Community

People in our congregations and community facing serious medical issues like cancer rely on support from their church family. Learn how pastors, deacons, congregational care committees, and concerned church members can provide help to those suffering, as well as their caregivers and survivors. Some resources can also benefit  those who are grieving the loss of a marriage through separation or divorce.

Speaker: Huw Christopher


Pat Baker

Patricia “Pat” Baker volunteers as the director for older adult and caregiver ministries at St. Andrews Presbyterian Church in Tucker, Georgia. She has been involved with POAMN since its inception in the early 1980s and recently completed a term as president. Her career in the field of aging and caregiving spanned five decades with positions at public, private, and faith-based organizations.

Elaine Burrell

Elaine Burrell, MSW, CSA, has served for eight years as director of Senior Adult Ministry and congregational care coordinator at Point Loma Community Presbyterian Church. In this role, she strives to find new expressions of older adult ministry by offering innovative programs and staying current with the needs of the changing senior adult population. She earned a master’s degree in social work (specialty health and aging) from San Diego State University and is a certified senior advisor.

Huw Christopher

Rev. Dr. Huw Christopher is a retired Presbyterian Church (USA) pastor. A native of Wales, United Kingdom, he studied at Union Presbyterian Seminary in Virginia (Th.M.) and Columbia Theological Seminary in Georgia. Prior to retirement he served churches in North Carolina and Florida. He now resides at the Presbyterian community of Monte Vista Grove Homes in Pasadena, California.

John Illian

John Illian is a retired Presbyterian Church (USA) pastor who is serving as a part-time minister of visitation and member of the Care Team at Solana Beach Presbyterian Church. Before going to seminary, he was a public-school teacher. In his current and previous calls, John has had responsibilities in outreach, care, and spiritual formation. He enjoys using his teaching/equipping skills to bring these three areas together in ministry with senior adults.

Robin Johnson

Robin Johnson serves as the director of Adult 55+ Ministry and the director of Mental Health Ministry at Clear Lake Presbyterian Church in Houston, Texas. She holds Level 1 and Level 2 certifications in Older Adult Ministry through Columbia Theological Seminary.

Gin Lao

Gin Lao (M.Div.), a chaplain at Elizabeth Hospice with his wife, Sharon, uses religious and non-religious spiritual care to support clients searching for hope, meaning, and inner peace. They provide education, guidance, music, and life review along with a dash of humor to grieving families. Gin pastored for 9 years, followed by chaplaincy for 8 years. 

Sharon Lao

Sharon Lao (M.Div., BCC), a chaplain at Elizabeth Hospice with her husband, Gin, uses religious and non-religious spiritual care to support clients searching for hope, meaning, and inner peace. They provide education, guidance, music, and life review along with a dash of humor to grieving families. Sharon has been a chaplain for 17 years. 

Richard Lederer

Richard Lederer is the author of more than 60 books about language, history, and humor, including his best-selling Anguished English series and his current titles, A Feast of Words and American History for Everyone. He is a founding co-host of “A Way With Words,” broadcast on Public Radio. Dr. Lederer has been named International Punster of the Year and Toastmasters International’s Golden Gavel winner.

Ben Lindstrom

Rev. Ben Lindstrom is the pastor of Point Loma Community Presbyterian Church. He received institutional degrees from Whitworth University and Princeton theological seminary. He has also spent a lifetime surrounding himself with the most thoughtful and inspirational minds and hearts he could find. During his life, as a pastor, counselor, and encourager, he has sought to be a conduit, connecting God to others.

Mike McClenahan

Rev. Mike McClenahan has served as senior pastor at Solana Beach Presbyterian Church since 2003. He was ordained in 1990 as an associate pastor working with students and families in northern California. He chairs The Fellowship Community board of directors, networking leaders and churches to faithfully live and proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ, and has served on the boards of Amor Ministries and Cyclical San Diego.

Taylor Phillips

Taylor Phillips served as the chaplain at Westminster Oaks Retirement Community in Tallahassee, Florida, for 22 years. Taylor also is the author of Queen of the Clouds: Joan Merriam Smith and Jerrie Mock’s Epic Quest to Become the First Woman to Fly Solo Around the World (Turtle Cove Press, 2023). QOTC has been awarded Gold Medals in Biography and Nonfiction by the Florida Authors and Publishers Association and Finalist by the American Book Festival out of Los Angeles, California.

Hugh Plappert

Hugh Plappert is the chief marketing officer at PhoneLiveStreaming, a company that connects 22,000 shut-ins to local churches every Sunday without the internet. He attended the Apostolic Bible Institute Inc and obtained a Bachelor of Theology. 

Chris Pomfret

A retired aerospace consultant, Chris Pomfret founded the Third Thirty concept in 2012 after witnessing the aging of his parents. He has been a member of POAMN since 2014 and serves as its treasurer.

Zeena Regis

Zeena Regis serves as the director of Faith Engagement and Priority Populations at Compassion & Choices, a nonprofit working to improve care, expand options, and empower everyone to chart their end-of-life journey. Prior to her role with Compassion & Choices, Zeena served as a hospice chaplain and grief care coordinator for almost a decade. Zeena also serves on the faculty of Columbia Theological Seminary’s Older Adult Ministry Certification program.

André Rocha

André Rocha has been in ministry for over 20 years and became the director of Missions & Outreach at Solana Beach Presbyterian Church in 2019. He previously worked as a missionary in Greece for 10 years where he pastored churches, led mass evangelism campaigns, discipled professional athletes, and facilitated relief and development initiatives among muslims during the Syrian refugee crisis. He holds theology and missiology degrees from the South American Theological Seminary and Fuller Theological Seminary.

Jonathan Schwartz

Jon Schwartz has a business degree in Entrepreneurship from Indiana University and a master’s degree in Gerontology from USC. Jon was a contributing writer for the San Diego Jewish Journal where his pieces focused on a variety of aging issues. In 2019, Jon took his decade-plus experience in the field of aging and started Partner in Aging to connect seniors to expert advocates. The advocates  help individuals age well at home and/or find the right retirement community.

Denise Shannon

Rev. Denise Shannon is entering her fifth year serving as the pastor of Weldon Valley Presbyterian Church in Weldona, Colorado. Denise also serves as a hospice chaplain offering spiritual care and advanced care planning assistance to those at the end of their life. She is a certified Soul Collage facilitator and she is the founder and owner of “Sassy Preacher Lady Ministries”. She was honored with the Ronald E. Sleeth Preaching Award in 2017.

Fran Shelton

Rev. Dr. Shelton is a renowned author, pastor, spiritual director, and co-founder of the nonprofit Faith & Grief Ministries. She leads bereavement workshops and spiritual retreats, and is a preacher and regular keynote speaker at conferences. She is currently serving at First Presbyterian Church in Dallas.

Tom Theriault

Rev. Dr. Tom Theriault twice graduated from Fuller Seminary, earning an MDiv and then a DMin in Intercultural Studies. Tom served Presbyterian churches in California and Washington and, along with his wife Judy, directed the Presbyterian Center for Mission Studies in Pasadena, helping churches embrace the Bible’s call to take the Gospel to all people groups. In retirement, Tom has been serving for two years as the parttime chaplain at Redwood Terrace, a senior living community in Escondido.

Miatta Wilson

Miatta Wilson is a mission associate in the Office of Christian Formation of the Presbyterian Mission Agency. There she helps connect faith formation leaders to resources and to each other. She is a certified Christian educator and ruling elder with over 30 years’ experience as an educator with congregations in Dallas, Texas. Her passions include the outdoors, travel, intergenerational ministry, mission/service learning, and camp.


Emery Cummins

Dr. Emery (Em) Cummins is moderator of the Presbytery of San Diego and a ruling elder at Point Loma Community Presbyterian Church. He has degrees from Wheaton College, the University of Southern California, and Michigan State University. He was a professor of counseling at San Diego State University for 39 years. Since retirement he has remained active in the music and service ministries of his church.

Morgan Ziegler

Morgan Ziegler has been working at Solana Beach Presbyterian Church for 3 years as the assistant director of High School Ministries. Morgan grew up in La Jolla and attended Whitworth University in Spokane, graduating with a theology degree in 2020. Morgan’s favorite part of her job is welcoming students to experience the love of God and grow as a follower of Jesus through intentional community. 


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