“The afternoon sun of his (senior believer) life may be more mellow and productive of fruit than the morning sun. It may continue to increase in size and brightness until it drops behind the western hills.” Ellen White, RH April 6, 1886
The quote above by Ellen White encapsulates the vision of the Regional Conference Retirement Plan (RCRP)—retirement is more than just collecting a check. The Regional Conference Retirement team envisions enabling retired members to live full, productive, and comfortable lives while also preparing future retirees to eventually do the same. One of the ways in which they plan to do this is through the launch of an updated website: regionalretirement.org. This website launched June 1, 2022 and is filled with information that will be beneficial for retirees and future retirees both in and out of the Regional Conferences.
The Regional Conference Retirement Plan saw its genesis in 2000. Led by Elders Joseph McCoy and Frank Jones, the new plan was launched out of a belief that the responsibility of paying towards the retirement of its employees should be placed on the regional conferences. In describing the history of the Regional Conference Retirement Plan, the website states that the goal was to allow “employees to retire with dignity and maintain a comfortable lifestyle”.
Currently, the Regional Conference Retirement Plan is under the leadership of Dr. William Cox as Executive Director. Dr. Delbert Baker is the director of research and development for RCRP and is directly responsible for the Association for Development, Enrichment, and Lifelong Learning (ADEL). ADEL focuses on six dimensions of needs: social, mental, physical, spiritual, financial, and caregivers. Each dimension is covered extensively in the ADEL section of the website.
Dr. Baker acknowledges that some of the potential audience of ADEL and the website as a whole may be challenged in getting the material because of a lack of technological understanding. To address this need, Dr. Baker has designed blasts—or programs that can be sent directly to the home of some of the members. This program will consist of a five-minute devotion, twenty-minute music enrichment, and a twenty-minute seminar, enrichment, and a self-paced Bible study. Dr. Baker also envisions training workshops that will serve dual purposes of building community and increasing understanding.
While much of the content of the website is designed towards members who are already retirement age, it is also the goal of the Regional Conference Retirement Plan (RCRP) team to reach members who are pre-retirement. Dr. Baker points out “people who are planning for retirement will be more successful in retirement.” Dr. Baker and the RCRP team want to address that with programs such as the Retirement Education Acceleration Preparation (REAP) program. The idea behind this program is that there are things an individual can do within each decade of their lives to prepare for retirement. The REAP program is scheduled to launch in the last quarter of this year.
Just as the retirement program has continued to evolve, Dr. Baker believes people can continually find ways to grow and contribute to their communities. Dr. Baker also wants to continue to enhance comprehension of the retirement program for people such as spouses of retired members and members who are pre-retirement. As the program continues to grow, Dr. Baker credits God and the people who developed the program for helping it to get to the place where it is now—with a brand-new website in place to help further the work of God.