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Ageing Issues Study Network

Our new Network was launched in September 2015.  This is the paper circulated to interested people following a wide-ranging discussion at the launch meeting; further work is being undertaken to establish the Enquiry described in the paper.

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Cherished, or Forgotten? 

There is nothing worse, for any human, than being without love – love to give, and love received.  ‘If I am without love, I am nothing’ wrote St Paul echoing the words of the Lord: there are only two things to worry about – loving God and loving neighbour.

 Older people need little introduction to the concept of love – they have had a lifetime of experience and, for most, it will have been a mixed bag.  This experience will include their personal lives, of course, but also that in community – and, for those who have spent a lifetime of Christian involvement, in the communities which make up the Christian Church.  They have reached a point where they know, at first hand, how the inclusive love proclaimed by the gospel of Jesus Christ has affected them; many are living, in their end days, the alternative vision of human flourishing to be found in the gospel message.

There is a suggestion, in some quarters, that the love older people experience in their Church is somewhat different from the values proclaimed on paper and in practice.

It is in the context of this experience that Christians on Ageing is undertaking an Enquiry into the ways in which the Churches include older people in their life and fellowship.

If it is true, as some assert, that older people are the Church members who get forgotten, are often marginalised and carelessly patronised within their communities, we need the facts.  If it is not true, then there must be many examples of how older people are treated with dignity and respect, included in community life and valued for their current as well as past contributions.

How can we discover the truth?

The Ageing Issues Study Network is an informal ‘virtual’ gathering of people from a wide variety of backgrounds and interests, including practitioners in caring services, students and teachers in the academic world, pastors, carers and people generally wanting to contribute to an exploration of important issues in the lives of older Christians.

The first topic for exploration is the way in which the Churches deal with the possible isolation of older people who are no longer able to take part in the life and worship of local congregations by being physically present.

Most older people continue to be involved in their local congregation, either through sharing in regular Sunday worship or through involvement in groups and activities, many of which would collapse without their presence and input.  Some, however, because of mobility difficulties, or increasing frailty of mind or body, or medical conditions which confine them to their home – these are not able to be present in the normal way.

What happens when people can no longer get to the church building?  What contact is maintained?  What support is offered?  How is the spirit nourished?  Simply, what happens?

The Enquiry will seek examples of good practice.  The Enquiry will also try to identify what is not being done.  It will be a challenge to the Churches: if there is a problem, admit it, confront it, and do something about it.  If the problem is exaggerated, get busy showing all the good that is happening.

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 Not much spare time but  have an interest in what it is to be older but not sure what you have to say?

You sound just the type to join the Ageing Issues Study Network.  You might be working as an academic or other professional or you might just have an interest in the lives of older people. If you think it’s important to study the issues facing those who are older and those who work with and support them, you should find out more.  

No membership fees.  No regular meetings.  No demands on your time (unless you want to get more involved).  A network of ideas and information leading to innovation.

Contact Christians on Ageing by e-mail, post or telephone – see details on the Home Page.

 

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