Last week I attended a two day conference looking at ministry to those in the second half of life. It was a really interesting event. There were a number of speakers. The keynote speaker was Rob Merchant who is a gerontologist, author and Anglican priest.
Here are some reflections:
- It was a shock as someone in my early 50's to be lumped in with those in their late 60's and beyond. Actually I just thought that was silly. It also raised for me the question of how we take this age group, those whose children have left home or are about to leave home, (or have left home and then come back again) and who are getting nearer the end of this phase of a working life. I need to think more about that.
- It helped me become more conscious of the need to be as intentional in this ministry as in youth ministry. it isn't going to happen by accident. Having said that, one of the best sessions was taken by a Baptist church that has focused on the over 60's, and who listed some of their activities. I realised that we are doing OK here at St. Georges. We are developing a team to take home communions to people, bimonthly meetings to be intentional and careful about pastoral care to all age groups, but particularly the older parishioners, and a really good AAW group that offers good events for women in particular, and good pastoral care. But we do need to think about men and what we can do to support them.
- Rob also led a session on dementia, which was really helpful. It helped me think about the loss of the memory but not the emotion around that memory. Rob is involved with a group who have developed Pictures to Share Books which are specifically designed for use with people with dementia. it looks a really exciting resource and I hope to be able to encourage some of our age care facilities to buy these and make them available to their residents.
this was a really good two days. I hope to go back next year, and to take some key parishioners with me to build on what we are doing here at St. Georges.