July 30, 2020 | by JB Brayfindley
“We can do these things together,” explained Micheal Pope, CNUMC conference lay leader and recent guest speaker for the Wednesday Webinar on July 29. Pope spoke about ways local churches can serve the needs of older adults. “We don’t have to sit back and complain about what’s not happening in our community. We can be a force to be reckoned with…”
“Where is your church located?” asked Pope who cited that more older adults gravitate to cities because of the easy access to transportation and food. Pope, CEO of Alzheimer Services of the East Bay (ASEB) for more than 22 years, noted that by 2050--for the first time--there will be more elders than children (over the age of 5) in the world. “What does this mean to our church?”
Sharing her computer screen, Pope showed a photograph of a smiling elderly woman and two giggly children.
“Just because I am no longer a child,” pointed out Pope, “doesn’t mean I don’t have the same needs as children do.” Pope went on to delineate needs seniors have including the need for respect, social inclusion and access to information. Even during the pandemic, Pope encouraged churches to facilitate safe social participation opportunities for seniors such as drive-by visits, phone calls and mailing letters.
“We provide activity packets to our seniors,” stated Pope. The packets include fliers about COVID-19 safety rules, a vial of bubbles, a puzzle, and a personal letter.
Since there is a higher risk of seniors dying from COVID-19 than any other demographic, Pope listed the symptoms and reasons to call 911. Difficulty breathing is one of the most important reason to not hesitate to go to the doctor.
Pope provided a list of many resources for seniors including how to access food, financial assistance, health insurance and how to ask for an “elder check.”
Steps churches can take in developing ministries to the elderly include: 1) organizing an age friendly task force; 2) assessing through focus groups and surveys to develop project ideas to meet needs; 3) partnering with community organizations and the UM conference; 4) exploring a church health ministry. Pope suggested that churches considering beginning a health ministry to go to https://www.wespath.org/health-well-being/health-well-being-resources/clergy-congregational-resources/umchmn.
“This is my dream,” Pope stated, “to come together and really making an impact on not just our ministry in our church but in our communities and in our neighborhoods.”
To learn more, watch the entire webinar and download the PDFs of resources at cnumc.org.