Older Adult Ministry

Churches as Models Project Final Report 2014

In February, 2014, the California-Nevada Conference’s Older Adult Ministry Council (OAMC) officially became an integral part of the Committee on New and Vital Congregations (OAM/CNVC).   Two active participants - Rev. Dr. Judith Pruess-Mellow and Jacqueline Finley, with the informal support of other past OAMC members provide Older Adult Ministries (OAM) opportunities to advocate for midlife and older adults within the UMC congregations and broader communities. As part of its ongoing commitment to keeping older adults connected, engaged, and socially, spiritually, intellectually, and physically healthy, this year (2014) OAM has implemented the Churches as Models project. They are focusing on two Conference churches, Castro Valley UMC and Sacramento-Japanese UMC. To read the full report, click here.

Do you have Intergenerational Programs scheduled?

To get an Older Adult Ministry going in your church:
  • Work off the passion of individual seniors and the gifts and blessings of the church.
  • Define the population of older adults in your church.  Are they mostly Boomers (aged 50 – 70), Seniors (aged 71 – 85) or Elders (aged 86+), or possibly all three groups?  What needs to arise from this definition?  Following are some ideas:
  • If you have many Elders, consider starting a Friendly Visitor Program, by phone or in person visiting; transportation assistance to church or church activities; a Listening to Legacies Program where teenagers interview older adults about their lives (see below for more information); or ongoing discussion or reminiscence groups;
  • If you have many Seniors, think about programs to help them volunteer or feel productive; innovative exercise classes to promote good physical and social health; or a Listening to Legacies Program;

    If you have many Boomers, consider a caregiver support group for Children of Aging Parents (this has been called “ACAP” in Los Altos and Grass Valley); small group dinner gatherings for mid-lifers and new retirees; or classes or workshops providing information of interest to individuals in the Boomer age group.

  • Check frequently on Instant Connection, the Vital Signs and Wonders blog and this website for updates.  There are many VITAL AND ALIVE churches with interesting older adult ministries. Currently, OAM/CNVC is coordinating a year-long project, Churches as Models. For more information, contact Jackie Finley at Finleyjacqueline@gmail.com.
What you need:
  • A group of people, so those interested in having an ongoing ministry knowing they have support and that there is ample material available to support them in their ministry.
  • Someone from the church who knows almost everyone to spearhead the effort.
Death and Dying:
The OAM/CNVC recognizes the importance of congregations thinking and planning ahead and can assist them by asking:
  • What are pastors doing about congregants completing Advanced Directives?
  • What about Five Wishes? This is available from http://www.agingwithdignity.org/.
  • CODA cards are an option that will assist people in completing the Five Wishes, and these are available from the CODA Alliance.
  • Read the recently published books:
    • Dennis McCullough, M.D.’s book, My Mother, Your Mother—the “slow medicine” idea. It was reviewed in the New York Times.
    • Annie Freeman's Fabulous Traveling Funeral by Kris Radish as being very helpful.
  • OAM/CNVC encourages parishioners to ask elders these questions: How do you want to be remembered, to share your story, to record your stories, to leave a legacy? Several years ago, the Conference Older Adult Ministry group developed a booklet to guide congregations interested in preserving the legacies of Elders and Seniors. This booklet may be obtained by writing a check for $12 to CA NV Conference, Older Adult Ministry, and sending it to Judith Pruess-Mellow, Secretary, Committee on New and Vital Congregations, 529 Linden Ave., Grass Valley, CA 95945, with your address. She will send you a copy.
Best Practices Guide (2008, Second Edition) includes many changes to the document handed out at Annual Conference. (Also see Best Pracctices Update, 2011)

For more information on the Older Adult Ministry  in the California-Nevada Conference of the United Methodist Church, email Judith Pruess-Mellow, chairperson at  judithpm07@gmail.com.