I gladly spent the last weekend of August, in the Windermere Centre, which is the United Reformed Church residential training centre, set in the Lake District. We gathered to explore some of the questions and issues surrounding age. The group was open, ready to listen and to explore this subject from a number of different perspectives. All of this was much helped by the comfort of the centre and some pretty tasty home-cooking! Our sessions took place within the context of prayer and reflection.
It is too early to offer any wise conclusions to the weekend, except these things which I should like to articulate here :-
1. I find the culture of the United Reformed Church attractive in its openness, flexibility, responsiveness and liberality. The people I had the privilege of working with were practical Christians wanting to find ways of putting their faith into practice, sometimes in quite demanding and difficult circumstances.
2. The preparedness in this group to accept that the Church was an ageing Church. No delusions. No pretence. No self-deception. The demographics of the United Reformed Church (which I suspect reflects all major denominations) demonstrates that the age profile of those people who support United Reformed Churches is old and getting older.
3. Over the weekend, we explored what this really meant and in particular try to see what energy might be released if we begin to engage with older people and what they might have to offer. More of this at a later stage!
So today, refreshed by the air of the Lake District, gratitude from this Anglican for the United Reformed Church and particularly those folks who gathered last weekend in the Windermere Centre.