I had the privilege of travelling up to The Wilson Carlile Campus which houses the headquarters of the Church Army. Mike Collyer and Claire Dalpra had organised an excellent afternoon conference which gathered a 100 people together to think about our mission and ministry to older people.
I was glad to be able to connect with Mark Russell who spoke energetically and passionately about older people as a mission resource. The Leveson Centre’s partnership with the Church Army has been a creative one and we are both very proud of this new resource. The publication offers practical suggestions for local churches together with some reflective material to help people understand age and ageing. We were grateful to the Archbishop of York who has commended the resource and for many people who have taken up the opportunity to buy it and use it.
I had the opportunity to address the group after Mark Russell and used the time to explore the spiritual opportunities which emerge as we look at the process of ageing.
Here are a couple of snippets which I shared with group :-
“The profit motive, the mass media’s love affair with the new, and the anxiety provoked by growing old in a youth obsessed culture has lead millions to surrender their faces to the war on wrinkles. We are being asked to unmake what we have spent a life time making. What do we receive in return for this sacrifice? Not youth instead we are given at best the facsimile of youth. People fear wrinkles because of what they seem to say about us. They are, however, the sum of all our days, and will never live again. They tell our story even when we do not want that story to be told. Wrinkles are painless and harmless. They are us and we are them. What would it be like to live in a society that adored wrinkles?”
“Might it be possible to develop a view of what some have called developmental ageing which sees the spiritual as the key to unlocking our potential. So let us affirm this :
Elderhood is difficult but so is the whole of life!
Elderhood is a vital and necessary part of the human life cycle.
Elders need the highest possible level of economic help in order to develop their health properly.
There is an ancient and dynamic exchange that goes on between elders, their families and communities.
The practical challenge now is whether the churches are prepared to respond to the demographic challenges which face us all and to see within older people and extraordinary resource of wisdom so under valued and marginalised by our prejudice and stereo-types.”
A Mission Shaped Church can be ordered from the Leveson Centre –