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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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May 28, 2009

A virtual tip of the hat

Before May slips away, I’d like to tip my virtual hat to folks who consider themselves “Older Americans.” It is, after all, Older Americans Month.

If you fall into this category, you’re among our most faithful readers of "The Lutheran," and in our congregations you are our pillars, our salt of the earth, the people who give and lead because that’s what you’ve done all your life.

Missy Buchanan is writing a book about helping religious leaders rethink how they relate to older men and women in their congregations. In Read the Spirit, she shares “10 Tips for Better Ministry,” including:

5. Celebrate long life. “Don’t wait for a milestone birthday or funeral to honor older adults. Create your own moments to celebrate long life.” and 7. Become an encourager. “Many adults go unnoticed as they become less mobile and quietly fade from church life. Maintaining connections between the faith community and older adults is vital to their spiritual well-being.”

“Ask church leaders about the implications of this huge demographic shift toward an aging population and you’ll likely get a shrug of the shoulders,” Buchanan writes. “Most are aware of the statistics about aging congregations and declining memberships; few know what to do. All are feeling the pressure to revitalize the church by attracting young adults and young families. But with so much emphasis on the young, there is a danger of forgetting the old.”

In the current issue of "The Lutheran," get a taste of what the folks in Wausau, Wis., are doing to help their elderly feel less isolated and more valued: “Yes, there will be snacks. ” Last month “Luxury aging in Idaho” lifted up the foresight for ministry to the elderly at First Lutheran Church, Sandpoint, Idaho.

The aging population in our congregations is not only one of our biggest challenges, but one of our greatest treasurers. 

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The ELCA's aging clergy wave

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