Beyond the Bulletin

A Ministry Unfolds at Aldersgate

At Aldersgate, a nonprofit senior living facility in Charlotte, a unique ministry has unfolded thanks to the efforts of resident and FPC member Cliff Boylston. Armed with a faithful spirit and a mastery of technology that defies stereotypes, the 89-year-old utilizes an arsenal of four screens, two MacBook Pros, Photoshop, and the Internet to curate special worship bulletins for a small group of worshipers.

“I’m an old engineer (will be 90 in February) living with my loving and lovable wife for 66 years and our (also old) dog Suzy,” Cliff shared. After graduating from Auburn University, he worked as an engineer and spent 45 years as an expert witness assisting trial lawyers defending lawsuits against outdoor power equipment manufacturers.

Surprisingly, this is where his aptitude for technology and design was founded, as a need arose for creating graphic displays and editing images for use in trials. “I taught myself how to use Photoshop tools along with vector drawing apps. My work was certainly not up to pro-level (and still isn’t), but it was good enough to help win trials back then and make church bulletins more interesting now.”

Due to his wife Lil’s health, the couple cannot easily attend worship in person. “She wanted more fellowship with other Presbyterians instead of just the two of us watching the TV at home,” Cliff explained.
Together with FPC members Kitty Ray and Dave Quackenbush, Lil started the group affectionately called the “Aldersgate Presbyterians.” They began worshiping together in October of 2022 via FPC’s TV broadcast and later via livestream.

Today, 12 to 15 residents gather each Sunday, and among them, you will find several FPC members, including Bob Brown—a sixth-generation member—and his wife, Dora Lee. Cliff wondered, “Without Lil’s disabilities, would God have given us the Aldersgate Presbyterians?”

In February 2023, after a few months of regular worship with the group, Cliff had an idea to put his design skills to work and enhance the Sunday bulletin. He’s been doing it weekly ever since.

First, he sets the tone with the bulletin’s front cover by adding a full-page image of stained glass. He replaces the pen and ink church on the cover with one of four colored versions he’s created. Inside, meticulous details unfold, with paintings carefully selected to align with the weekly scripture, transforming each bulletin into a visual masterpiece. His attention to detail extends to the numbering of pages, revision notes, and a chronological list of past bulletins. Occasionally, you may even see some whimsical elements added, which give a glimpse at Cliff’s jokester side, like when he photoshopped Rev. Pen Peery into an elf costume dancing on the church lawn!

Behind the scenes, though, Cliff’s dedication is evident. He explained, “More time is spent searching the Internet for artwork than photoshopping and manipulating the stuff into something that can be printed. On average, it takes about six hours to put everything together and print it.” Though each bulletin takes time, it’s a thoughtful investment in bringing beauty and meaning to the virtual worship experience.

As a long-time leader in the Presbyterian Church (USA)—teaching Sunday School, serving as an elder, being a representative to the Atlanta Presbytery and a Commissioner to the General Assembly, and even preaching a layman sermon—this new endeavor has been a welcome challenge for Cliff.

Ministries such as the Aldersgate Presbyterians demonstrate that some truly extraordinary things can happen where faith and technology intersect. Under the thoughtful leadership and creativity of Cliff Boylston, the mission continues one carefully crafted bulletin at a time.

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