With the building of Cumberland Medical Center, Uplands was free to reinvent itself. In 1953, visitors suggested that Uplands might become a place for retiring career missionaries. In 1956, the first retirement cottage was authorized. Missionaries on fixed incomes, completing a lifetime of service, found a welcome here. The first homes were given away. Dr. May always seemed to have a heart for those in need.
Word of the Uplands spread quickly among those who had given their lives in service. Soon, it would become home to a large number of career missionaries. (Those who remain today represent over 600 combined years of missionary service in the name of Jesus Christ.) But it wasn’t just missionaries who were drawn to this place. Faith-based community activists found a home here as well, as did teachers, doctors, pastors, librarians, community leaders and church leaders and people who celebrated the life of the mind. These were the kinds of people drawn to the Uplands, and these people drew others like them.
Today, Uplands Village is in the process of having to reinvent itself again. The world has changed, and the way we do ministry and mission in the Church has changed. There are far fewer career missionaries now than there used to be and those who live at Uplands Village are getting older and older. It won’t be long before their faithful witness will be but a memory.
It’s hard to explain what will be lost when the missionaries are gone. One cannot serve for more than 40 years in Kinshasa (the capital of the former Zaire), or Sendai (the capital city of Miyagi Prefecture in Japan), or Tokyo, or Hiroshima (having gone there in 1948 — just three years after the war) — without being profoundly changed by the experience. These are deeply faithful servants of God; people whose ways of living and thinking and praying are shaped by a global perspective. If we are at war somewhere in the world, there is someone at the Uplands who knows people in that place; people who have deep and abiding friendships with folks there. If there is an earthquake or a tsunami someplace, there are people at Uplands who know those towns, those cities, those communities, those churches. These are people shaped by a love that extends far beyond national borders.
As Uplands moves into the future, one of its challenges will be to retain and nurture the noble value of true servanthood which grows — so naturally — out of the very heart of the people who have lived there.