Meeting our Neighbors
The Villages is the largest retirement community in the world. In the seven years of Lake Deaton’s life, The Villages has nearly doubled in size. Also, it is expected to almost double again in size over the next seven years. Projections are that The Villages could have a population over 250,000 year-round residents within the next decade! This makes it an open mission field for Lake Deaton.
Whereas Lake Deaton UMC’s original location was to be the southern end of The Villages, due to the current vast building expansion below highway 44, Lake Deaton UMC will become centralized in The Villages community.
Bob and Sally are active boomers, born before or between 1946 and 1964. They have recently moved to The Villages (either retired or semi-retired), and are preparing for the final third of their lives. They have left family and friends to move into a new community, leaving the work place that had consumed much of their time. Like most “Villagers”, they came to not only purchase a house, but buy into a lifestyle that is active, fun, and social. They like an active social lifestyle, traveling and experiencing new things. They are looking at their downsized life as a new adventure and have left the church partially or fully. Bob and Sally are educated, both academically as well as through life experiences. They want to find places to serve the greater good and make a difference, but that service has to fit into their activity schedule (which is their priority).
Bob and Sally are concerned about their physical health, their mental well-being, and their social engagement. They fear losing mobility, but know it is coming and want to make sure their finances will last until the end. While they have bought into the active adult lifestyle of The Villages, Bob and Sally want the benefits of multigenerational communities, but only on their terms.
Every congregation also has a mission field near them that is often vastly different from them. This is the mission field where God calls a community of faith to serve in the name of Jesus Christ. This mission field is referred to as “The Mission Field We Serve,” or its Samaria. (Acts 1:8)
Lake Deaton UMC’s Samaria is the communities of Wildwood and Coleman.
Wildwood: Wildwood is a smaller community that historically was a railroad town and has become a community in change as The Villages has surrounded it on three sides. Wildwood is 82% White, 13% Black, and 5% Hispanic and other races. The average age for Wildwood is 53, but the trend is moving downward as Wildwood becomes a location for younger adults to live who work in The Villages. Like most communities within the central Florida area, Wildwood is made up of over 40% retired adults. There is a significant population of school aged children in Wildwood: early elementary aged children, 735; late elementary-middle school aged children, 755 and high school aged children, 523. The Wildwood school’s financial resources have been decimated because of the development of The Villages’ Charter School, so there are many economic and other needs in the school system. The average household income in Wildwood is $75,000, but almost 1500 households (42%) fall near or below the poverty level. Over 60% of Wildwood workers have White Collar jobs and 39% work in Blue Collar jobs.
Coleman: Coleman is a small southern rural community of less than 1,000 residents that is quickly being surrounded by The Villages. Overall, Coleman is a community that is living slightly above the poverty level with the average household income of $60,000. Ethnically, Coleman is 83% White, 10% Black, 5% Hispanic and 2% from India. It is interesting that an Indian family makes up the 2% and this has wealth and advanced education which skews the demographics.
Also notable, is that the median income within the Black and Hispanic populations are the lowest at $17,500 for Black and $32,500 for Hispanic.
The average age of Coleman residents are in the mid 40’s and, as of the last demographic data (2019), there were only 232 people in Coleman between the ages of birth and 34. The majority of Coleman residents are over the age of 55 years old. Most of the over 55 aged population live in one of three mobile home parks, representative of the old Florida retirement community model. Slightly more than half of the working population in Coleman are in White Collar jobs (56%) and slightly under half are in Blue Collar jobs (44%). Unemployment is low.
The Mosaic Segments for Coleman reveal, similar to The Villages, that over 50% of residents are in retired segments. The difference in Coleman, is that the segments are more small-town segments with less wealth.