Bitzer to speak at kick-off of St. John’s Senior Seasons Academy

Published 12:00 am Saturday, September 24, 2016

By Susan Shinn

St. John’s Lutheran Church

On the cusp of the 2016 general election, Dr. Michael Bitzer will speak at the kick-off of St. John’s Senior Seasons Academy. This free event is set for 10 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 27, in the Faith Center of the church, 200 W. Innes St. in Downtown Salisbury.

The six-week Academy, open to the community, will then run from Oct. 4 to Nov. 8.

Bitzer has been a professor of politics and history at Catawba College since 2002. Now serving as provost, he continues to teach courses in American politics and law. He is an elections analyst for WSOC-TV and WFAE, and is a political columnist for WFAE’s “The Party Line” blog. He’s also a frequent guest host on WFAE’s “Charlotte Talks” weekday show.

Bitzer is highly sought for his expertise and commentary, especially during the election cycle. At St. John’s, Bitzer will share his thoughts on local, state, and national elections during a political season that’s been unparalleled in U.S. history.

Bitzer is one of several “community treasures” who have helped kick off the Senior Season’s Academy — six-week sessions, or “seasons,” offered in fall, winter and spring, according to Carolyn Byrd, the church’s director of senior adult ministries.

Other guest speakers have included the late Ralph Ketner, F&M Bank’s Paul Fisher, and Mary Ponds, a former mayor of Granite Quarry and longtime civic leader.

“I have had an opportunity to learn and grow in our Academy,” Byrd says. “Our steering committee has been fabulous is planning classes that are both faith-based and community-based. We have had evaluations after every six-week session and gained a great deal of information from those in planning our future programming. We hope this year to expand more in our church, certainly, but out into the community as well. We believe that the Academy is a wonderful outreach tool.”

Members of the Senior Seasons advisory board are Tom Childress, Jeannie Moore, Nick Gennett and Cyndi Osterhus, all of whom are retired from careers in higher education.

“The purpose and goal of our Academy is to help people learn, but also to gather for fellowship, and improve our overall health and well being,” Byrd notes.

To that end, participants can end their day at the Academy with a Stretch, Balance and Breathe bonus course with Judy Childress.

This fall’s slate of sessions includes two morning sessions: “Is God a Republican or Democrat?” with the Rev. Rhodes Woolly, St. John’s senior pastor; and “Mining for Gold in Rowan County,” with a variety of speakers from the county’s cultural, artistic, educational and community organizations. There are also two afternoon courses, “Five Things God Uses to Grow Your Faith,” with the Rev. Danielle Kosanovich DeNise, St. John’s pastor for discipleship; and “Welcome to Fall … and Gardening,” with Darrell Blackwelder, the county’s recently retired Cooperative Extension Service director.

Participants may choose one morning and one afternoon session. The cost for the six-week session is $30, and a variety of lunch options will be available weekly for a nominal charge.

To sign up for the fall Senior Seasons Academy, visit For further details, contact Carolyn Byrd at 704-636-3431 or

Susan Shinn is communications assistant for St. John’s Lutheran Church. 


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