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Notes On Support For Older People In PACT Churches

Many are the comments about the growing number of older people in our churches, as in the rest of the population. This is both a responsibility and an opportunity. As one of that group myself, I am increasingly conscious of both our needs and new areas of service. Our faith should help us all to appreciate the significance of this stage of life and value the experience, understanding (possibly even wisdom) the years may bring, together with its problems.

Over the last couple of years the Social Concerns Group has been gathering information about the opportunities for fellowship and support our churches offer to their older members. The next stage is to look at what we can / do offer to those in our wider communities, and what that community can offer us.

The following report records the first stage. Additions or amendments to it are welcome at any time.

St Mary's Sheet: Joan Barber

  • St Mary Magdalen Over Fifties and Singles (SMOFS) is a focus of loving support and pastoral care through:

    • their own afternoon Home / Bible Study groups
    • a programme of social events to include monthly pub lunches and Sunday teas in
      different houses
    • occasional trips to concerts, theatres and special birthday celebrations
  • Friendship Lunches in the Village Hall on 5th Sunday of any month. Food provided by ‘Home Groups’ - no charge; donations invited. Very popular!
  • Home Communions for elderly housebound and allocated residential and nursing homes
  • Lay Pastoral Assistants (6 LPA’s) meet regularly with the vicar to discuss, among other things, the perceived needs of the elderly and how to respond.
  • Approved ‘Listeners’ - available after morning services. Often a single elderly person just needs someone to talk to.
  • Prayer Circle - 18 members who respond to prayer requests, often for the elderly at home or in hospital. Similarly they are remembered in church intercessions, with the consent of that person and in confidence.
  • Visitors - for those in residential homes as well as those confined to home. A Summer Evensong is organised for them with tea in the village hall. Transport provided. It is recognised that, where suitable, age groups should occasionally be integrated so that being ‘elderly’ does not preclude you from mixing with others or treat you as a ‘race apart’!

Petersfield Methodist Church: Judith Peake

  • Pastoral visitors - each with the responsibility of care for named members and adherents, including the elderly.
  • Various regular weekday group activities, not necessarily directly supporting and involving the elderly, but including them. Invariably members reap the benefits of fellowship, sharing and support from one another.
  • Several house / Bible study / prayer groups meeting regularly.
  • Other more secular interest groups: fortnightly Country Dancing; Short Mat Bowls (not in the summer); a painting group; and table tennis.; also, reaching out to people outside the church circle and offering fellowship, a weekly Women’s Fellowship, a monthly Men’s Fellowship and Saturday coffee or tea mornings.

United Reformed Church: Joyce Perry

  • Elders’ Pastoral Lists - all members and adherents are allocated to an Elder (whether currently ‘serving’ or not) who will keep in touch and alert the minister and/or the Elders’ Meeting of any problems.
  • Prayer Chain - a dozen or so people pass on and respond to requests for prayer support for those in special need.
  • Connie’s Handicraft Group - while not designated as such, this is attended mainly by elderly women and provides both social and pastoral support. They have made a phenomenal amount of clothing and toys for children in need overseas.
  • Men’s Breakfast - one Saturday each month. Includes older men with other age groups.
  • ‘Little Fishes’ - a parent and toddler group for which older people (mainly women) are encouraged to provide support (checking attendance, talking to parents, etc.).
  • Godfrey House - 6 small flats for the over-50’s owned by a Trust linked with the local Church; priority given to local URC members usually comprising c.50% of the tenants.
  • House and Prayer Groups - for all ages but obviously include older people. In the past we have arranged outings /teas for special groups e.g. over 80’s or over 90’s. It’s time we did another. We also have a significant number of couples who have celebrated Golden (or even Diamond) wedding anniversaries - could PACT do something to celebrate this across the churches?

St Peter’s Church: Bill Grace

  • Visits by congregational members, not based on a “rota” and perhaps a bit uncoordinated. However, emergency needs that occur randomly are responded to as quickly as possible. Some visits to particular parishioners are carried out on a regular basis.
  • Visiting as an adjunct to the Home Communions ministry.
  • St. Peter’s supports the elderly (and others) by offering a selection of worship at various times during weekdays (including Saturdays). Accessibility to the Church is easy, offering full “facilities”. The “main” Sunday service, at 9.30am, is considered by some to be too early for the “extreme” elderly.
  • St. Peter’s is a welcoming contemplative space, and is visited by all (including the non-church-going elderly). It is open all day to visitors.
  • The elderly are offered “lifts” to services and to other places e.g. hospital. Shopping is done for some on an individual basis.
  • The Pastoral Committee monitors individual needs and forwards information gathered in its meetings to the Parish Staff and others). * Bill Grace is the current Chair of this Committee.
  • Items of “News” are available to all through the “CrossKeys” sheet, listing events and services. Additionally, the “Rock”- the monthly magazine for the parishes of Buriton, Petersfield and Sheet is distributed to individuals at their request.
  • St. Peter’s possesses a website, but internet connections are necessary to view this.
  • As with most mainstream churches these days, the congregation has many “elderly” members itself, which affects the type of ministry that can be offered.

Life Church Petersfield, Formerly Petersfield Christian Fellowship Pippa Collingwood

We have few ‘elderly’ but a large group of newly retired, heading that way.

  • Pastoral care is through weekly life groups (formerly house groups).
  • Joan and Terry Thraves have a link with Gloucester Court and have talked about starting up something there, but it is in abeyance at present. Individually, many visit or care for old people but this is not documented.

St Laurence’s Roman Catholic Church: Monica Taylor

  • Visiting: A team of lay Ministers of Communion take Communion to those who are housebound, in hospital, or in care homes on a regular basis. The Parish Priest also visits.
  • A rosta of people to give lifts, to those in need, to Sunday Mass.
  • A social afternoon on a Wednesday afternoon. Unfortunately this is not very well attended, hence it is held bi-monthly.
  • We are in the process of trying

    • to arrange a roster of people to befriend and make social visits to the elderly and
    • to re-convene the St Vincent de Paul Society which provides practical help to those who need it.

The Salvation Army: Steve Field

  • Each attending elderly member of our Church is visited by the Officer at least twice a year, and depending on needs may be visited more often.
  • A Lunch Club is held on a Tuesday, which primarily caters for those who are retired, and provides a warm and friendly atmosphere, while enjoying a 2 course meal together. This is followed by a family meeting, which provides an opportunity to, sing worship, and have fun together.
  • Our brass band practice on a Tuesday is open to all ages, and can be attended by those who attend another church or no church. We play hymn tunes and pieces, and take part in various events during the year.
  • Our Wednesday and Saturday Coffee Mornings provide a setting for all ages to socialize, purchase items of clothing, other goods, and fresh eggs (Wednesdays only). Whilst it is not exclusively attended by retired people, they make up the largest percentage.
  • We have a bi-monthly social to which all ages are invited, and they are generally focused on being suitable for all ages to join in (i.e. Quiz Night, Talent Night, Pub Meal, Line Dancing, Outings etc).
  • At Christmas time, the Brass Band and singers provide a Carol Service to 9 of the residential homes in and around Petersfield.
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