“The effects of aging encompass the emotional, physical, social, financial and spiritual aspects of a person as they age.” Photo: Rob Marmion
As the first baby boomers reach retirement age, the Older Adult Ministries Task Force of the Episcopal Church is recognizing and addressing issues and concerns of the aging population, and making available online resources, according to an April 12 release from the office of public affairs.
In addition, the release says, through the task force the Episcopal Church is giving attention to the future and the possible impact and implications of an aging population on congregations.
"The reality of the first Baby Boomer turning 65 affects many aspects of our society, challenging policymakers, families, businesses, health care providers and church leaders at all levels to recognize the needs and attributes of aging individuals," task force Co-convener Jeri Sedlar of the Diocese of New York said in the release. "The effects of aging encompass the emotional, physical, social, financial and spiritual aspects of a person as they age."
Created by General Convention 2009 Resolution D004, the task force is also gathering data on older adult ministries currently in place in congregations and dioceses throughout the church.
"The Task Force on Older Adult Ministries was created by General Convention to determine what is already available, and to ascertain what is needed," said Co-convener Missy Morain of the Diocese of Los Angeles. "Older adults are an important part of our church, and we are focused on developing the voice of ministries with, by and to older adults and their families."
Working with the church’s Office of Lifelong Christian Formation, the task force has focused on: preparing resolutions for General Convention 2012 that respond appropriately to trends and needs of an aging population; taking a leadership position in the prevention of elder abuse; and piloting an elder abuse prevention training webinar in the Diocese of Lexington, Kentucky.
The Task Force’s projects include: a survey of "promising practice" programs in dioceses and congregations by, for and with older adults; the development of an older-friendly church checklist; conducting pilot programs in the Dioceses of Lexington and Washington to advocate for and to support Old Americans Month in May 2011
At General Convention 2009, Resolution D004 established the Task Force on Older Adult Ministries "to determine programs currently being offered by congregations, dioceses and provinces, to establish a method of sharing this information, and to explore ways the church can expand this ministry to connect with one another in intergenerational opportunities" and to prepare a "comprehensive plan to raise awareness and address the emerging crisis in health, caregiving and faith issues which cross generational and economic lines with emphasis on support of congregational, diocesan and provincial programs for older adult ministry."
The task force is charged with reporting annually to Executive Council and in writing to the 77th General Convention, slated for July 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana.
The resolution also cited facts regarding the U.S. population, such as: one in every eight Americans is age 65 or older; more than one in four live alone; within 10 years, the number of people age 85 and up will increase by 40%.
In addition to co-conveners Morain and Sedlar, task force members are:
- John Belzer and Alma Belzer, Diocese of Oklahoma;
- Christy Campbell, Church Pension Fund;
- Bob Carlson, Diocese of Pennsylvania;
- Matt Ellis, Diocese of Indianapolis;
- Bud Holland, Diocese of Pennsylvania;
- Melody Marshall, Diocese of Florida;
- Ruth Mitman, Diocese of Connecticut;
- Rose Samuels, representing Native American ministries, Diocese of Long Island;
- Gary Stewart, Diocese of Lexington;
- Pam Tester, Diocese of Lexington;
- Ken Forde, Diocese of New York;
- Ruth-Ann Collins, Episcopal Church adult formation and lifelong learning officer and staff liaison.
Resources for older adult ministries include:
- Episcopal Church Older Adult ministries and formation
- Books, articles, videos, etc.
- Best practices, case studies and other topics
To offer ideas and information about current programs for older adults, contact [email protected].