Presbyterian Older Adult Ministries Network encourages churches to celebrate aging people of all generations
by Paul Seebeck | Presbyterian News Service
LOUISVILLE — As president of the Presbyterian Older Adult Ministries Network, Michele Hendrix has long been an advocate for the PC(USA)’s Older Adult Week Sunday, which falls on May 3 this year.
This special emphasis week for those 65 and above has been around since it was adopted by the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) General Assembly in 1992. “We want all generations in the church to view aging as a natural part of living — as part of the lifespan,” Hendrix said.
To help churches understand reasons for celebrating older adults in the church, POAMN will host an online conversation, “Stronger Together: Intergenerational Relationships,” at 11 a.m. Eastern Time on Thursday.
This intergenerational relationship theme was also the focus of POAMN’s most recent national conference, which Hendrix highlighted in the 2020 Older Adult Ministries planning guide, a valuable resource published by POAMN each year for planning worship and other activities during Older Adult Sunday Week.
This year, because of COVID-19, Hendrix encourages people to go the POAMN website for this year’s worship service, which is currently being adapted for online worship. She also suggests looking at previous planning guides to adapt what might work for worship in a congregation’s particular context.
Hendrix said that before the coronavirus, there were at least a half dozen 100-year-olds at her church attending worship regularly. And with four decades of older adults, ages 65-100, represented at First Presbyterian Church in San Antonio, Texas, the congregation’s older adult population is becoming more ethnically and racially diverse.
Despite that, Hendrix said the ethnic and racial diversity in the under-18 population relative to those ages 65 and older “has created a diversity gap between the generations.”
With nearly 50 million people in the U.S. over 65 — that number is projected to reach more than 80 million in 2050 — these trends are likely to increase, Hendrix said, not only in her congregation, but in PC(USA) churches and in congregations around the world.
Over the last several years, Hendrix said the congregation began to realize that older adults are the largest constituency in the church — and in the denomination. She felt like there was a negative emphasis on aging — until the boomers hit 65 and began to appreciate and celebrate the stages of their lifespan.
“They wanted to share it, not only with their children and grandchildren, but with all generations of the church,” she said.
For these reasons, Hendrix continues to stress the importance of working to involve all ages in Older Adult Week Sunday, however it is celebrated — and to include children and youth in that celebration as well.
“Christianity spread because stories of faith were passed on year to year from generation to generation,” she said. “We kind of got away from that when we moved children and youth out of the sanctuary, but it’s coming back, because worship happens in the full body of Christ.”
Interested in POAMN’s Intergenerational Relationships online conversation on Thursday? Register via e-mail.
Between May 3-9 as part of the Older Adult Week celebration, POAMN plans to post profiles of older adults in the church on its Facebook page.
In partnership with POAMN, the Office of Christian Formation has produced the following “QuickSheets” resources for Older Adult Week. Written by the Rev. Keith Sundberg, the QuickSheets can be accessed here or by clicking on individual links below:
- Supporting Older Adults During COVID-19
- Online Memorial Services
- Grief: The Importance and Challenging Blessing of Mourning
- Grandparents: Nurturing the faith of grandchildren
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Categories: Christian Formation, Partner Associations
Tags: first presbyterian church san antonio texas, michele hendrix, office of christian formation, older adult sunday, older adult week, POAMN, Presbyterian Older Adult Ministries Network, quicksheets, stronger together: intergenerational relationships
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Ministries: Office of Christian Formation, Partner Associations, Theology, Formation & Evangelism