By Jim Nelson
The Baptist Home
Paul and Ruth Harvey are among many Missouri Baptist couples who retire, not to rocking chairs and slow days, but to ministry -- in a unique way.
Married in 1950, the couple has six children and 12 grandchildren. Paul served as a pastor to churches in Indiana, Kentucky and Missouri for more than 30 years.
He was Brotherhood director for the Missouri Baptist Convention for 17 years and worked in Royal Ambassador camps at Windermere Baptist Conference Center for 40 years. Ruth was a homemaker for their large family and also taught school and worked as a church secretary.
Like so many dedicated Christian couples, Paul and Ruth did not retire in their retirement years. They have made mission trips to several Western states, including Arizona, Montana and Wyoming.
One totally new aspect of ministry opened up in retirement. Because of surgery on his left arm, Paul could no longer play his guitar. Bob Woolley, former Missouri Baptist Convention music consultant, invited his friend, a member of Southridge Baptist Church, Jefferson City, to join some members of the Friendship Club at First Baptist Church, Jefferson City, who were learning to play the mountain dulcimer.
To hear Bob tell it, Paul fell in love with the dulcimer from the start. Because Paul already knew chords, he was an advanced learner. Soon he began to attend classes, conferences and conventions. He has become accomplished enough to be an instructor and has led classes at senior adult retreats at Windermere Baptist Conference Center.
"Paul plays the mountain dulcimer like God intended it to be played," Woolley said.
A couple of years ago, Paul and Ruth moved to an independent living apartment at The Baptist Home's Ozark campus and often play duets for residents of The Home and other nursing homes. According to Paul, Ruth is learning faster than he did. Playing the dulcimer has opened up yet another avenue of service for Paul and Ruth.
(Check out the Nov. 25, 2004 issue of Word&Way for more inspiring stories of seniors who continue to serve their churches and communities.)