Saturday, December 03, 2011

Our Elders

Our Pastoral Care worker and general "force of nature," Beth, created a list of all the people who we might consider shut-ins recently. The list included those who live in seniors' residences and nursing homes, as well as those who are seldom able to get out and about. It was so long I did a count and there were over fifty names. So we have a small congregation of people who don't actually come to worship for the most part but still feel very connected to St. Paul's and to their faith.

We do our best to provide spiritual support for this gang but it is a growing challenge as the congregation ages. I often do battle with the guilt of not keeping up. Thank God for Beth! Not only is she a caring visitor, she has done an exceptional job of connecting pastoral visitors with these individuals so they aren't "out of sight, out of mind."

I had lunch this week with one of my evangelical colleagues who has started a new congregation in Bowmanville in the past five years. He is a very likable guy and we chatted about the similarities and differences in our ministries. I mentioned this group of seniors and he replied that he doesn't have one person in this category. No one.

I believe that we must honour this group of people who are, after all, more than a tenth of our congregation, even though we don't see them. I feel that as a society we should respect our elders and even more so in the church. Once again I have used the image created by artist Gary Crawford for the New Creed booklet and the phrase "In life, in death, in life beyond death, God is with us. We are not alone."

What are your thoughts?


Laura said...

My Mom is a recipient of Beth's friendly visitor program, as she lives with Alzheimer's in a local care home. She is wonderfully paired with a warm and cheerful friend, who I think my Mom would have befriended herself, when she was well.
When I go in to visit and see the card that Mom's visitor has been in, it feels kind of like a hug of support which offers our family extra strength somehow.
These visits offer Mom companionship, which although she can't articulate transforms those moments into being a part of a community, which she supported throughout her life, and now supports her.

At times I think I have been envious of the tales of these new churches, full of young families, but then I think of the benefit I have known from older members of each of the congregations we have been a part of, and I see and feel the support our youth and children receive from the seniors at St Paul's and I know that we are richly blessed by their presence and prayers.

Read4ever365 said...

It's Brenda writing here (aka Kayla's mom).

There is a good chance that the shut-in population of St. Paul's will continue to rise as we see an increase in elderly members of Canadian society. The Pastoral Care work done by Beth is extremely important and must continue...perhaps even expand.

My 84 year old mother is as close to being shut in as you can get. She lives with our family and we tend to some of her daily needs. She lived alone for many years when she was stronger, more agile and driving her own car. It has been difficult for her to see her independence slip away. But she has become an important part of our everyday life. She adds depth and knowledge to our discussions, forces us into a family meal routine and is supportive voice in parenting.

I wish her arthritis and spinal stenosis would stop progressing so that she could stay with us far into the future but I realize the day will come when she cannot negotiate our stairs or make the trip independently from bedroom to bathroom. When we face that difficult next step I hope there will be Pastoral Care and other supports in our community.

When we are elders....God willing....will we wish for honour and respect? Very likely we will.

lionlamb said...

Thanks to both of you for thoughtful and personal responses. It's interesting that both of you are "sandwich generation" adults, providing support for elderly parents while raising active kids.

You serve as good reminders of the challenges many of our folk face and the tough decisions along the way.