MIAMI— In 1993, in Miami, a ministry for Hispanic senior adults was born that today continues to encourage and mobilize older believers. Pastor Alfredo Quesada of Carrollwood Baptist Church in Tampa started a group called the Golden Years Club. What began as a modest local group would transform into an inspiring three-decade journey throughout Florida Baptist life.
In the same year, missionary Juanita Reyes and Rev. Tomás Díaz from White Street Baptist Church in Key West invited Quesada and his group to participate in a congress for senior adults. The goal was to encourage other churches to start their own Golden Years Clubs.
The enthusiasm and collaboration were palpable, and in March 1993, the first event was held at the Community Center in Key West. Nearly 200 people from various churches, including Getsemaní, Miami Beach, Redención, Riverside, and Resurrección, joined a special dinner.
Missionary Juanita Reyes, at the end of the event, suggested that these celebrations continue and that a ministry for senior adult believers be established. This suggestion was enthusiastically received, and the Golden Years Ministry was officially born, with a board composed of dedicated leaders.
Emanuel Roque, Florida Baptists’ catalyst for Hispanics, points out: “The Golden Years Ministry in Florida has faithfully served and continues to bless many people and churches over the years. Apart from inspiring state and regional events, support for local church expressions is where lives are continuously ministered to.”
Pura Peña, a 91-year-old faithful member of Northside Baptist Church in Hialeah, enthusiastically adds: “The Golden Years Ministry has been a great blessing in my life. The conferences always teach me a new perspective on God’s love and how I can continue to serve in His kingdom even in my old age.”
The legacy of the Golden Years Ministry grew with each passing year. The second congress, in 1995, was held at the Tampa Bay Baptist Association campground, led by Hubert Hurt.
For the third congress, in 1996, Miami had the honor of hosting, with Riverside Baptist Church as the venue. Frank Moreno was the guest preacher and suggested that these events become a tradition at Lake Yale Baptist Conference Center.
Over the years, different leaders took on key roles in this ministry, including Rev. Natanael P. Vicens, Roberto Clemente, brother Efraín Díaz, and Pastor Enrique A. González.
“These pastors and leaders are brothers who set an example of committed service to this older population, showing the love of Jesus Christ. Many people can get to know Jesus Christ through the Golden Years Ministry in each local church,” said Roque.
During Pastor Enrique González’s tenure, the world faced the coronavirus pandemic in 2020 and 2021, leading to the suspension of congresses, although local ministries continued with caution.
In 2022, annual congresses resumed, and in 2023, in the context of the 29th annual congress, the 30th anniversary of the state Golden Years Ministry was celebrated, with the election of Rev. Daniel Milován as the new general coordinator.
This ministry has area coordinators who work alongside local church leaders to ensure its smooth operation. Many churches have adopted the Golden Years Ministry in their congregations, and congresses continue to grow, with attendance of more than 400 people.
Peña, a frequent participant in these events, shares her experience: “The annual meetings and local events of this ministry are a great opportunity to spend time with friends I haven’t seen in a long time, make new connections and discover new ways to serve.”