Back in the 1970s and ’80s, First Free was launching a new Adult Community every five years. It was a way for newly married couples to find Christian friends and a sense of belonging.
One of those communities was Agape, which started in 1973 with six couples: Tom and Linda Clinton, Vicki and Steve Johnson, Mark and Nancy Carlson, Brad and Char Carlson, Paula and Bob Hamberg, and Randy and Patty Ballard. They met for Sunday School in an old house next to the church. First Free had acquired the house to make room during a decade of huge growth.
“It was a great start for marriages, for spiritual life together,” says Linda Clinton. The class above us was older and already established with families. So the timing was right. None of us had kids yet.”
Linda is one of the people organizing a 50th anniversary reunion for anyone who was ever part of the Agape class. The reunion is from 9 to 11 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 25, at church.
“It’s going to be very low-key,” she says. “A little program and maybe some time for remembrances of people and what Agape meant to us. We’ll have the Blessing Basket, because we always had that every week.”
The class may have started small, but it grew quickly during First Free’s final years in Midtown and the current campus, which opened in 1980. As couples became families, class gatherings or “socials” got larger, too.
“Being young couples, not having a lot of resources but wanting to get away and just have some fellowship, this was a great way to do it,” Linda says. “We didn’t have a lot of money. Babysitters were expensive. So this was great. We had at least one social a month. A lot of our socials revolved around baby showers.”
Agape disbanded a few years ago, as did several other adult communities. But the class involved hundreds of people over its lifespan. If you were part of Agape, or know others who were, please help spread the word about the reunion. For information, contact Kendra Johnson at church: 815-877-7046 or email@example.com.
Photo: From the First Free archives. Late 1970s.