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Reform Magazine | November 21, 2017

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Chapter & verse: Psalm 71

Chapter & verse: Psalm 71

Sheila Telfer appreciates the contribution of older people

At a recent church meeting, conversation turned to the social events we host for our over 80s, and it was noted that a number of invited guests had not attended. Someone remarked that many over 80s were ‘in denial’ and didn’t want to be invited to social occasions designed for the elderly.

Many dislike being labelled as elderly, feeling this implies that they have come to the end of their useful life. And the transition from being a giver to becoming a receiver of care can be hard. The truth is that many of our active over 80s are still more likely to be found in the kitchen making tea, buttering scones and washing up for social events, not to mention providing guests with lifts home in their cars before dashing off to keep-fit class or pilates. After all, age is just a number – as another octogenarian remarked.

These days, most churches depend upon the elderly to keep them running, as the age profile of congregations continues to rise. Indeed, if we required everyone over 70 to retire from the jobs they are currently doing around the church, many elderships would be decimated and most of our activities would quickly grind to a halt. The knowledge and life experience of those who have been around for many decades is a huge resource which provides continuity and stability. While some might feel weighed down by ongoing responsibilities and long for the chance to retire, many more find purpose and meaning in life through ministering to others in a variety of ways – through preaching, teaching, pastoral care and administration. The challenge is to find ways of allowing those who are tired to step back without thinking they are letting folk down, while enabling those who wish to continue serving to do so, even as their strength wanes and their pace slows down. …

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This is an extract from an article that was published in the November 2017 edition of  Reform

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