SAGE Builds a Legacy

Jerry and Beverly Brass had a vision for seniors in the Washington Conference in the 1980s and 90s with an annual gathering at Camp Hope in British Columbia, Canada, and quarterly lunches for retirees.

Bob Grady stepped in when Jerry Brass retired from the conference trust sdepartment in 1993. Grady appreciated the Brass’s vision and wanted to expand the ministry to include mission service.

One of the first officers of the group, Margaret Tan, suggested the name SAGE, meaning Seniors in Action for God with Excellence. The name clicked, the volunteer leadership team expanded, and SAGE quickly grew to more than 1,000 members (membership is free).

Now, 25 years later, SAGE celebrated its history of volunteer mission service and senior citizen fellowship on Sept. 28, 2019, with a special day of heritage and mission stories in Bellevue, Wash.

“This is a fun-loving organization that has brought hope and love to many seniors within and beyond Washington Conference,” Grady says.

A Day of Remembering

The SAGE 25th Celebration started with Howard Brenton, from Aberdeen, Wash., sharing about his first of many mission trips. “Don’t think you are too old to serve God,” he says. “It is a wonderful blessing to be involved in mission service.”

Through the years, SAGE volunteers planned an annual mission service trip to Mexico (1995, 1998, 2010), El Salvador (1996), Panama (1997), Venezuela (1999), Honduras (2000), Costa Rica (2001, 2018), India (2002, 2017), Dominican Republic (2003, 2004), Peru (2005, 2020), Ecuador (2007), Mozambique (2009), Zambia (2011), Nicaragua (2013), Panama (2015), Brazil (2016), Kenya (2019) and the United States (2006, 2012, 2016).

Mission trips typically involve partnering with Maranatha Volunteers International; building and/or painting facilities; providing medical, dental or vision care; offering Vacation Bible School; presenting evangelism campaigns; and helping with specific community needs.

Closer to home, SAGE provides regular work bees for Sunset Lake Camp in Wilkeson, Wash., and schedules requests to help local churches and schools with specific facility improvement tasks. To date, SAGE has painted more than 240 denominationally owned buildings in North America and around the world.

"SAGE is a vibrant demonstration of ‘second mile’ living, serving and fellowshipping," says Doug Bing, Washington Conference president. “SAGE volunteers have beautified our ministry facilities and addressed loneliness among senior citizens through hands-on service and interaction.”

Beyond service opportunities, SAGE members participate in fun activities such as baseball games, picnics, concerts, banquets, whale watches, travel tours and other activities to strengthen senior cohesiveness and build a better walk with God. Replicas of the SAGE organization have been started now in several conferences around North America. 

With each project, SAGE volunteers like to give an extra gesture of generosity to improve local ministry. The September gathering raised $71,659 for a girls’ dormitory in Kenya (built in memory of SAGE member Ken Lauren) and for aiding SAGE’s future mission trips.

“Who would have thought that so much good could be done by basically retired Adventists seniors?” Grady says. “As a result, God's work has prospered, and SAGE members have also been blessed and have greatly enjoyed being of service to God’s children everywhere.”