Faith in Later Life

Across the UK the numbers of older people are growing exponentially, and churches are not exempt. There are now over 11.9 million people aged 65 or over in the UK[1], and whilst people are living for longer, all too often older people are “written off” or simply not valued by Society, with a view that they are no longer able to make a contribution.

But this view isn’t correct. Psalm 92:13-14 tells us: “…they will flourish in the courts of our God. They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green”.

Faith in Later Life Banner

Betty is a prime example of an older person flourishing in God’s service and still bearing fruit. Asked by her church to share a bit about her ministry, Betty, aged 99, said that whilst she couldn’t do much physically anymore, she was someone who prayed. Unbeknown to many in the congregation, she had been praying for her church, and those around her, for 70 years.

 

Mission

On a mission to hear more stories like Betty’s, Faith in Later Life was established in 2017 by five Christian charities that have been engaging and sharing the gospel with older people for over 750 years (London City Mission, The Salvation Army, Keychange, Pilgrims’ Friend Society, and Mission Care).

Faith in Later Life is on a mission to inspire and equip churches and individual Christians to reach, serve and empower older people in every community. Our website (www.faithinlaterlife.org) provides resources on many different aspects of older age, as well as providing insights into the biblical view of later life.

The website also hosts a national directory of activities for older people, run by churches. The idea is that someone can see what activities are available in their area and join in, or recommend them to a friend. We want to see every older person in the UK, able to access an activity or group in their town or village. With around 40,000 churches across the UK, churches are ideally placed to reach out into their local communities.

To compliment this, our website also provides guidance and advice to anyone considering starting an initiative in their church or community. And beyond the website we have a network of ‘Church Champions’, as well as a group of later life “experts” who are available to provide church training and conferences.

 

Vision

Faith in Later Life envisions a Society where Christians are leading the change, starting by serving and affirming the older members of their congregations, but also empowering them, recognising their gifts and wisdom, as well as the faith that has guided them throughout their lives. But it doesn’t stop there. Of the 11.9 million older people in the UK, 49 per cent say the television or their pet is their main company, with more than 1 million older people admitting that they always, or often, feel lonely[2].

This simply put, is not acceptable. So, we also want to encourage churches and Christians in reaching out to their local communities, bringing older people into fellowship and community, demonstrating the love of Jesus to all.

 

Response

It’s clear that government funding is insufficient across adult health and social care- and yet tackling loneliness will have a positive impact in this area of government spending. Many of us are familiar with the statistic that loneliness can be as bad for our health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day[3]. What a lack of funding does mean though, is that there is interest in our work from Local Authorities, with some already exploring how to signpost to our Activities Directory; activities perhaps provided by you, and your church?

We can’t solve the current funding crisis, but we can shape how our local community responds. And we can also write to our MP about the situation too, to keep it on the agenda.

And as we seek to be the hands and feet of the Lord, when we love those around us, we can remember the words of Isaiah 46 v 4, That even to our grey hairs and old age, God will sustain us and carry us. 

 

Faith in Later Life Leaflet Cover

 

 

[1] Age UK research, May 2019

[2] Age UK research, May 2019

[3] Age UK research, April 2018

Carl Knightly, Director, Faith in Later Life

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published this page in Articles 2019-08-07 11:41:38 +0100