LifeQuest of Arkansas
LifeQuest is a program for active seniors sponsored and supported by twenty Little Rock (Pulaski County) interfaith congregations and hosted by Second Presbyterian Church, all as part of their mission to serve the needs of all of their parishioners. The basic LifeQuest format is a series of eight weekly sessions in hour-long units held all day on Wednesdays and on Thursday mornings. A standard LifeQuest year contains three eight-week terms and one four-week summer term, with breaks in between. A typical week’s sessions will cover dozens of topics, with attendees choosing among them. While many of the units are traditional lectures, with visual aids, others focus on activities such as painting with watercolors, drawing, oil painting, learning foreign languages, playing mah jongg, practicing yoga, and learning Latin dance.
LifeQuest of Arkansas was founded in 1981 as the Shepherd’s Center of Little Rock by twelve local congregations of various faiths. The name was changed in 2003, but LifeQuest remains affiliated with the Shepherd’s Centers of America and is one of its most successful organizations. The first term in 1981 offered about eight courses to approximately eighty attendees. In 2016, the program offered thirty-five to thirty-seven courses per eight-week term, with an enrollment averaging more than 550 a term.
Two of the most popular classes have been journalist John Brummett’s “Behind the Headlines” and retired diplomat and Hendrix College professor Alan Eastham’s “United States Foreign Policy.” Many of the presenters have been, like Eastham, present or former teachers, experts in topics such as biology, the works of Shakespeare, modern film, Victorian England, classical music, and sports.
Some topics carry over from one eight-week term to the next but without repetition. Others occupy the same spot on the calendar for eight weeks, sometimes with one presenter throughout and sometimes with eight different presenters. For example, in the 2015–16 term, the Reverend David Dyer presented eight “American Scoundrels,” while in the same term, lawyer Richard Williams assembled a group of eight lawyers, each of whom discussed a different Arkansas governor.
The entire operation is dependent upon 150 to 200 unpaid volunteers—as presenters, arrangers, and program crafters—all coordinated by a small part-time staff.
For additional information:
LifeQuest of Arkansas. http://www.lifequestofarkansas.org/ (accessed January 31, 2023).
W. Christopher Barrier
Mitchell, Williams, Selig, Gates & Woodyard, P.L.L.C.
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