75 Countries and Counting

“When I think of energy, I think of Tigger; then I think of David Church,” said Bill Hackett, a dear friend of David.

David and his wife, Winona, have been married for 61 years, traveled to 75 countries around the world, and raised four kids who raised nine grandkids. To say they have energy is the understatement of the year. David was a pastor for the United Methodist Church for 40 years, and Winona was a teacher and social worker for 20 years. Together, they helped lead a marriage seminar, Marriage Encounter, for over 20 years.

David and Winona fell in love with traveling soon after they fell in love with each other. After tying the knot and graduating college, they moved to Geneva, Switzerland so David could continue his education at the Bossey Ecumenical Institute for a year. There, they formed lifelong friendships with people from all over the world. After classes finished, they spent the spring exploring countries around the Mediterranean coast and the boot of Italy, falling in love with the people they met and the places they visited.

“We never planned on traveling all over the world,” David said. “It just sort of happened.”

They first heard of Chelsea Retirement Community (CRC) in 1958. David served at a church in Grass Lake, where volunteers would collect canned goods for CRC residents. He later recommended CRC to his sister, Esther Abade, when she was looking for a home to retire.

“We chose to move here while we’re young enough to enjoy all of its advantages,” David said about why they chose to live at CRC.

David attributes some of their travel to attending the World Methodist Conferences all over the world—from Brazil to England to Singapore. The couple has also traveled extensively in Europe, Central America, and the Middle East visiting friends and family. In fact, the only continent they haven’t visited is Antarctica. While traveling, David and Winona have often taken their children with them to experience the world, too.

“It’s an important education outside of the classroom. We saw such a different view than the prosperity of America,” Winona said. “The visits gave us a whole other perspective, where even when people work hard and are good Christians, it doesn’t mean that they have all the comforts we have in America.”

Together, they’ve hiked in national parks, camped in the Sahara Desert, cruised up and down the Mediterranean Sea, pondered art in Florence, met their newborn granddaughter for the first time in Paris, helped build youth camps in Cuba and Appalachia, and everything in-between.

Next stop? Russia and Finland this fall. After that? Who knows. One thing is for certain, even after retirement, David and Winona Church are not slowing down.