Experiencing Mission with Seniors

28 05 2012

BY DENISE LEICHTER, Lake Balboa, California, USA

Numerous events illustrate the caring nature of SHAMROCK seniors.

In 2010, we were planning to close our El Segundo Congregation in California because of declining numbers and members’ problems with health and age. We decided to invite everyone to a celebration service and to ask about their plans to connect with another congregation.

We also wanted to hear any pastoral-care needs. It quickly became clear that many of our seniors would face challenges in traveling to a new congregation.

I entered prayer to discern what we needed for all of our seniors in the Southern California USA Mission Center. The need was for a Senior Health and Advocacy Ministry, but the acronym of SHAM did not get a favorable response. I went back to prayer.

One morning, while watering my shamrock plant in the kitchen window, it came to me. We would build SHAM on the ROCK of Jesus Christ. We could use the three-leaf clover for body, mind, and spirit ministry.

We received contributions from the El Segundo Congregation, members, and the community. We also landed Tangible Love and Western Field grants. The funding enabled us to develop a wonderful ministry for our seniors and their families.

Every congregation gets a personal visit to assess demographics with the pastor and leadership team. We determine the needs and challenges of seniors, research community resources, and develop a plan to communicate regularly with the seniors.

On our mission center website, we have a link (www.Seniors.CofChristLA.org) with many resources for seniors and their families. Also, we send a quarterly newsletter via e-mail and postal mail. We make sure everyone gets birthday cards and notes of encouragement and celebration.

Also, we host a senior event every other month in various congregations. We use a “senior lens” to evaluate all mission center events for any barriers to attendance.

And we make lots of visits.

In addition we have held yoga and tai chi instruction. Classes have covered safety for the Internet, driving, and types of abuse. Others have dealt with dementia, Alzheimer’s, and advance directives. We’ve helped people learn to select senior housing and homecare services with the help of community agencies.

We also provide support for doctor visits and hospital admissions. We have fun, too—a fall fiesta and a Halloween party. And, of course, we worship.

Most of all, we celebrate caring and honoring a generation of wisdom, endurance, and generosity. As we support the Worth of All Persons, we experience mission and feel God’s blessings.




One response

28 05 2012

Great testimony about providing hope, joy, love and peace for seniors. However, as the title of this arcicle suggests, it is Experiencing Mission WITH Seniors…not FOR seniors. There are many seniors who benefit from offering their giftedness as much as receiving the giftedness of others. Seniors have much to offer in ways of ministry even as their strength and endurance wanes.

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