Eileen Mitchell was the youngest of all the grandchildren in her family, and she used to love to sit with her granddaddy on the porch and listen to his stories while he shelled peas. She also loved to sit and talk with her grandmother, who lived to be 100.
“I love history,” she said — and early in her career, Mitchell was a history teacher for a while.
But it wasn’t too long before she ended up in a role that fit exactly what she’d always loved, even though she didn’t have a name for it back then — senior adult ministry.
“I’ve been blessed to use what I love as a platform for ministry,” she said.
Mitchell — a state missionary who serves in senior adult, singles and family ministry for the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions — retired Jan. 15 after more than 30 years with the SBOM.
The move to SBOM
In 1990, she moved from working with Colorado Woman’s Missionary Union to start work with Alabama WMU. Five and a half years later, she felt led to work in ministry to singles and senior adults in the SBOM office directed by Henry Lyon.
Over the years, as offices changed and merged, Mitchell served under several other directors before ending up where she is now — an associate in the office of Sunday School and discipleship led by Daniel Edmonds.
Rick Lance, SBOM executive director, says in all the ways Mitchell has served, she’s had a “vivacious spirit and a second-mile attitude toward meeting the needs of people.”
“Eileen is well beloved, especially among senior adults to whom she has related in a healthy and wholesome way,” Lance said, adding that she’s also one of the finest soloists he’s ever heard. “We at the State Board of Missions will miss her as an active part of the SBOM family, but we know that the Lord will continue to use her in ministry to meet the needs of people in the name of Christ.”
Over the years, Mitchell’s job has led her to Alaska for backyard Bible clubs, Spain for single adult ministry and in churches of all sizes all over the state of Alabama for different kinds of ministry, including On Mission Celebrations.
“I loved when we did church visits,” she said. “You develop some great relationships by being a part of those different opportunities.”
Mitchell has made friends along the way that have lasted over the decades, and she says her biggest struggle in retiring during the COVID-19 pandemic is that she hasn’t gotten to see many of them in person in the months leading up to her leaving.
“It’s not goodbye, though,” she said. “This is just an ‘I’ll see you later.’”