Shepherd’s Centers of America was organized in 1975 to build and support a nationwide network of interfaith community-based centers that provide meaning and purpose for adults throughout their mature years.
Since 1971 older adults have contributed to and benefited from the Shepherd’s Center movement. It originated in Kansas City, Missouri when the senior minister of a large mid-city Methodist congregation recognized the need to redefine and restructure the way Americans approach aging.
The minister, The Reverend Elbert C. Cole, understood the post retirement time in life as spiritually meaningful, potentially healthy and enjoyable, full of new possibilities for learning and for staying current with the rapid changes in this modern world. He also saw these mature years as an opportune time for older adults to share their talents and wisdom to make their communities a better place for everyone. This first Center quickly became a model for others. Today there is a national network of Shepherd’s Centers serving older adults in communities across the United States.
The individual Shepherd’s Centers are 501(c ) (3) organizations led by independent boards of trustees. Individual centers partner with all faiths representing the diversity of their communities. All Shepherd’s Centers share a commonly understood mission to empower older adults to use their wisdom and skills for the good of their communities. And, they provide health enhancement, cultural enrichment and lifelong learning opportunities.
Congregations provide office and program space for the Shepherd’s Centers. Funding for the work of the Centers is generated from congregations, program fees, individual donors, grants from corporations and foundations, and fund raising events. Shepherd’s Centers are unique in their capacity to engage volunteers from area congregations in leadership roles.