Bob Grady is nearly synonymous with SAGE through nearly 30 years of engaging “Seniors in Action for God with Excellence.” And now, with his 90th birthday, Grady is retiring for the second time.
When Bob and Carrol Grady first arrived in Washington Conference to join the Trust Services department after a career of mission service and pastoral ministry, they heard about quarterly potluck dinners for retired employees hosted by predecessor Jerry Brass. This got Grady and his colleague, Keith Boyd, thinking.
“In 1994, I got a small group together at camp meeting and we began brainstorming ideas for involving all seniors,” Grady remembered. “Our first two projects showed the direction we wanted to go: rebuilding the Church Bowl at Sunset Lake and joining Maranatha to build a church in Mexico.”
Grady assembled an inaugural team of officers: Winston and Jeanne DeHaven served as presidential couple along with Stephen and Margaret Tan, Will and Esther Garner, Duane and Norma Anderson, and Lewis and Eugenia Shipowick as vice presidential couples to take care of fundraising, programming and service projects.
Carrol Grady provided her writing expertise for public relations and Stan Sargeant joined the team with his travel agent prowess.
The network of volunteers grew through the years, reaching 1,500 people eager to be involved in a plethora of service and mission projects at domestic and international locations.
“There’s just something about the camaraderie of working together that inspires you to return and do it again,” said Grady.
SAGE volunteers had the privilege of working with Maranatha Volunteers International to build 25 churches and schools around the world. These building trips were coupled with evangelism meetings resulting in more than 2,000 baptisms, Vacation Bible Schools and medical/dental clinics to touch thousands of lives.
“Many schools and churches throughout Washington Conference have been on the receiving end of SAGE volunteers,” Grady noted. “We’ve painted 147 denominational buildings in North America and the world field under the direction of master painter Mike Altman.”
Beyond service projects, SAGE also provided opportunities for fellowship and friendship among seniors. This included picnics, sightseeing trips, dinners, spiritual retreats, talent shows, prayer retreats and more.
To mark Grady’s retirement, Washington Conference hosted a luncheon for a final SAGE executive leadership team committee in November 2022. The team reminisced about all the ways the Lord had given seniors opportunities to get out of their rocking chairs to be a blessing to humanity.
After the celebratory dinner, the SAGE committee met and voted to pay for a Maranatha one-day church for a women’s prison in Kenya that SAGE volunteers had visited in their last mission trip in September 2022. The remaining funds in SAGE’s account have similar philanthropic intentions.
“Many people are asking if SAGE will continue,” Grady acknowledged. “This organization to keep going needs to have a new generation of volunteers who are willing to step up. I’m praying that God will raise up new leaders to continue involving seniors in mission service.”