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Loving our Elders and Fulfilling their Dreams

I’m going to take a little detour on the blog today, moving away from my usual talk about the new old and focusing instead on those at the very end of life’s spectrum.

The fastest growing segment of the older adult population are those who are 85+ and churches need to look for innovative ways to communicate love and care to this growing group. Here is just one idea for ministry with this group.

A Church Serves Those Who are Often Forgotten

Johnson Ferry Baptist Church in Atlanta, GA has a unique ministry that touches the needs of the frail elderly. For the past 6 years, Peggy Fulghum, director of the Life After Fifty Ministry, and her team of active older adults, have hosted the Magnolia Ball for over 300 nursing home and assisted living residents as well as the homebound members of their church. The church’s fellowship hall is transformed into a 1940s big band dance hall with hundreds of lights, finger foods, and a 40-piece jazz ensemble. “We want to help these elders remember that they are loved and cared about and that they have not been forgotten.”

One part of the evening consists of helping to fulfill the dream of an elder. In one case, three women missed singing in the church choir and dreamed of having this opportunity. During the band’s intermission, the 50-member church choir came marching into the room in their church robes, singing, “When the Saints Go Marching In.” The elderly women were then dressed in robes and sang “Amazing Grace” with the choir. Peggy says, “Many of the elderly are transported in the vans from their nursing homes and they arrive at the ball hunched over with their heads down, almost with the attitude of ‘what now?’ but by the time they leave they are laughing and smiling and waiting in anticipation for next year’s ball.”

What do you do to minister with the frail elderly? How do you value them and encourage them to dream?

If you are looking for some resources, here are a few to check out:

Second Wind Dreams
is an organization dedicated to helping fulfill the dreams of elders, especially those in long-term care communities.

Missy Buchanan has written a number of books to encourage elders. Go here to read an inspiring article by Missy about helping elders to dream.

Desert Ministries is a great ministry devoted to serving the elderly living in nursing homes.

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5 comments

  • June 11, 2011 11:50 amPosted 6 years ago
    Jim Moore

    Amy,

    I’m a 73-year-old young man (no, that’s not an oxymoron–I’m still very active, and only my knees and back feel 73) who have been active in the church since I was born again in in 1957.
    In response to my church’s intensified emphasis on ministry to youth (note: I have been a leader in Christian Service Brigade, I’ve taught 8th and 9th grade boys, and I have a heart for kids {3 children, 8 grandchildren}), but I see this emphasis on youth bringing a decrease in concern for age.
    I found your page in a Google search, and ma’am, you’re speaking my language. Thanks.

    Jim

    Reply
    • June 18, 2011 1:47 pmPosted 6 years ago
      Amy Hanson

      Jim! So glad to hear from you. I hope churches can learn that there is a need for ministry with all age groups. It is not one or the other — we need everyone — every AGE — in the body of Christ.

      Reply
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    July 28, 2011 5:00 amPosted 6 years ago
    Tony

    Hi Amy,

    I am an American living in Australia. At present I have had the great opportunity to work with the folks at an age care facility. We are developing programs for the aged and one of the things we want to do is to help them fufil a life long dream. I will take some of your suggestions and use some of the resources that you listed. Thank,

    Tony

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    January 7, 2012 2:32 amPosted 5 years ago
    David Sirman

    I notice that you’re appearing at Leadership Conference at First Baptist Atlanta on Baby Boomers Ministry. Is that event open to the public, ministry leaders? I have a keen interest in entering into ministry with baby boomers and would love to attend. I’m a member at Mt Paran COG North in Marietta GA

    Reply
    • January 7, 2012 4:24 pmPosted 5 years ago
      Amy Hanson

      Hi David, Thanks for your comment. I’m encouraged to hear of your interest in ministry with baby boomers. There is so much untapped potential. Unfortunately, I don’t currently have something scheduled in Georgia in 2012 — I was at First Baptist Atlanta in July of 2011…and you would have been more then welcome to attend the meeting! Sorry it didn’t work out that time, but hopefully in the future. Let me know how else I can help.

      Reply

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