Older Adult Ministries

In a culture enchanted with the idea of youth, the Church of the Brethren chooses to live another way by valuing and welcoming the gifts of older adults. To encourage a positive vision of aging within the church, staff raises awareness of and develops resources on issues related to aging, in addition to providing a support network for those working with older adults.

Photo by Jan Fischer Bachman

2020 Older Adult Month Resources

May is designated as "Older Adult Month." We, in the Church of the Brethren, are blessed by the presence and wisdom of the elders in our congregations. Perhaps you can set aside one Sunday in May to honor your older adults. The worship resources below can be used for online worship. Maybe you can ask younger folks to share stories of how an older adult has been a blessing in their life. Go to the NOAC Facebook page to share your experiences of worship.

Theme: “Still Bearing Fruit”- Psalm 92:14

Theme Statement: Many believe that as they age, they no longer have anything to contribute to their families, their congregations, or their communities. Psalm 92 makes it quite clear that as we age, we still bear fruit. I often tell the children in my congregation that they should get to know the oldest people in our church because they are the ones who have known Jesus the longest; they are the ones who have loved God the longest. Wisdom accumulates with years and experience. Our older adults have lived through times that we can only read about. They have learned from their elders, who learned from their elders, and so on, and by sharing their wisdom they connect the generations. Our congregations need our older adults to tell us what they know about faith and life. The intergenerational relationships that develop within a congregation are to be treasured. The church needs all of us, the young and the not-so young.

(The following resources were created for your use in worship in your congregation. Feel free to edit for your own context. All resources written by Christy Waltersdorff, NOAC Coordinator and Pastor of the York Center Church of the Brethren in Lombard, Illinois.)

CALL TO WORSHIP

(based on Psalm 92)

One: It is good to give thanks to God and to sing our praises to our Creator.
All: We declare God’s steadfast love in the morning and give thanks for God’s faithfulness at night.
One: You, O God, have made us glad by the works of your hands. We sing for joy.
All: Your works are great, Holy God. Your thoughts are very deep.
One: The righteous flourish like the palm tree; and grow strong and tall.
All: They are planted in the house of the Lord; they flourish in the courts of our God.
One: In old age they still bear fruit; they are always green and full of life.
All: God is our rock! God’s steadfast love endures forever.

PASTORAL PRAYER

God of the ages, your love extends from generation to generation. Scripture tells us that Sarah and Abraham were nearly one hundred years old when they had a child, no wonder she laughed. We read that Moses lived to be one hundred and twenty years old with unimpaired vision and no loss of vigor, even after leading the Hebrew people through the wilderness for forty years. We celebrate Deborah, the judge, who lived one hundred and thirty years; and Noah who lived nine hundred and fifty!

No matter our age, we are grateful to be welcomed into your family of faith. We are grateful for the young and the old and all of those in-between. Thank you for those who have lived and loved you for many, many years. We are grateful that they are still bearing fruit, still making a difference in the church and in the world. May we treat them with respect and dignity. May we listen to their memories and allow them to help us make our own.

We pray for those who are ill, alone, afraid, and grieving. We pray for those who care for our loved ones in nursing homes, rehab centers, and hospitals. We pray for those who live in poverty and need. We pray for those who deal with poor vision, impaired hearing, and limited movement. Give us compassion to support and care for our elders.

Gracious God, we give you thanks for the older adults in our lives. May we be quick to remind them that they do, indeed, continue to bear fruit. We pray in Christ’s name. Amen.

LITANY OF THANKSGIVING

One: We give thanks to God for our elders; for those who have lived the longest and still bless us with their presence.
All: We are grateful for their wisdom; sharing what they have learned through the years.
One: We give thanks to God for our elders; for those who have served Christ and the church throughout their lives.
All: We are grateful for their faith; sharing the truth of their relationship with Jesus Christ.
One: We give thanks to God for our elders; for those who have seen the best and the worst of humanity.
All: We are grateful for their honesty; helping us to live faithfully in difficult times.
One: We are grateful for our elders; for those who have shared Christ’s love with a hurting world.
All: We are grateful for their courage; willing to speak truth to power in Christ’s name.
One: We are grateful for our elders; for those who still have much to teach us.
All: We are grateful for their patience; willing to sit with us as we try to understand.
One: We are grateful for our elders; for those who don’t always take themselves too seriously.
All: We are grateful for their humor; abundantly sharing their laughter and joy with us.
One: We are grateful for our elders; for Sunday School teachers, preachers, musicians, singers, ushers, cooks, camp counselors, and those who always have a smile for us.
All: We are grateful for their presence; making our church complete.


NOAC 2019 logo

NOAC: National Older Adult Conference

September 2-6, 2019

Lake Junaluska Conference and Retreat Center in the beautiful mountains of western North Carolina

Learn more about NOAC


Prayer for Older Adult Month and National Older Adult Conference 2019

God of the past, your love was with me.

God of the present, your love is with me.

God of the future, your love will be with me forever. Amen

—Karen Dillon, Vandalia, Ohio, Christian Education Director, Salem Church of the Brethren NOAC Committee

FOR MAY 5, 2019

CALL TO WORSHIP

ONE
Come, you who are young, and you who are old.
Come to be dressed, like Saul, in Jesus’ light!

ALL
Come, you who have poor vision and cannot see.
Come to be dressed, like Paul, with new sight!

ONE
Come, you who know grief, loneliness, weeping, and sadness.
Come to be dressed, like the psalmist, with new life!

ALL
Come, you who wonder what your future holds, how you will live and how you will die.
Come to be dressed, like Peter, by Jesus’ resurrection!

ONE
Come, you who have needs, questions, and longings.
Come to be dressed with the prayers of those who love Jesus!

ALL
Come, so that we might proclaim together: “You have changed my mourning into dancing. You took off my funeral clothes and dressed me up in joy, so that my whole being might sing praises to you and never stop!”

Acts 9:1-20; Psalm 30; Revelation 5:8-14; and John 21:1-19

Paula Ziegler Ulrich, Staff Pastor, Brethren Retirement Community, Greenville, OH, NOAC Planning and Worship Teams

FOR MAY 19, 2019

A LITANY OF CONFESSION

LEFT
The old man in front of us walks so slowly. We try to hurry around, but his cart blocks the way. We feel stuck, and angry! Can’t he see that we have places to go, and things to do?

RIGHT
The young people behind me seem so impatient. They keep trying to zip around me, but there’s not enough space. I feel nervous and rushed! Why can’t they slow down and take their time?

LEFT
My grandfather called again, asking when I will pick him up for his next doctor’s appointment. Why can’t he remember? I wrote it on his calendar, and I’ve told him ten times! I feel so frustrated! Doesn’t he know that I’m busy?

RIGHT
I keep calling my grandson, and asking him the same thing over and over. He tries to be polite, but I can tell he’s not happy with me. I can’t remember the little details, anymore. It makes me feel frightened, and alone. Can’t he see that I’m doing my best?

LEFT
My mother can’t hear anything I say. It’s challenging to communicate, and I almost feel like giving up. I’m tired of repeating everything. And yet, I don’t want to leave her out or ignore her, either.

RIGHT
I know my daughter gets tired of repeating things. It’s hard to get old and lose various abilities – like hearing! I sometimes feel sorry for myself, and even critical because she seems so aggravated. Help us, Lord!

ONE
In a vision, Jesus told Peter not to reject or dismiss God’s children who are different. And Jesus said, “I give you a new commandment: love each other. This is how everyone will know you are my disciples.”

ALL
Forgive us, Lord, when we do not fully include everyone in your family of praise! Forgive us for our impatience, our lack of understanding, and our dismissal of those you have created. Forgive us when we fail to honor and love one another. Help us to nurture our relationships between: Those who move quickly and those who go slowly Those with clear minds and those who forget Those with sharp hearing and those who struggle to hear Those who are young and those who are old Thank you for the wild and wonderful diversity with which you have created your children! Give us strength and wisdom to learn from one another, and embrace each other.

ONE The psalmist said, “Praise the Lord! Do the same, you young men – young women, too! – you who are old together with you who are young! Let all of these praise the Lord’s name!”

WORD OF ASSURANCE

I heard a loud voice from the throne say, “Look! God’s dwelling is here with humankind. God will dwell with you and you will be God’s people. God will be with you as your God. God will wipe away every tear from your eyes. Death will be no more. There will be no mourning, crying, or pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” Then the one seated on the throne said, “Look! I am making all things new.”

Acts 11:1-18; Psalm 148, Revelation 21:1-6, and John 13:31-35

Paula Ziegler Ulrich, Staff Pastor, Brethren Retirement Community, Greenville, OH and on the NOAC Planning and Worship Teams


Grandparents' prayer

Holy God, Eternal Parent, Author of love and grace, we pray for grandparents, great grandparents and all who stand in the line of generations...

Go to the prayer
2011 National Older Adult Conference (NOAC) keynote presenters Curtis W. Dubble and David E. Fuchs, MD, tell the touching and powerful story of the Dubble family's experience making end-of-life decisions.
Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford

"Unexpected travels in healing…"

End-of-life video resource available

This hour-long video of the 2011 NOAC presentation by David Fuchs and Curtis Dubble is a helpful resource for individuals, families, deacons, and congregations as they explore end-of-life issues. Read more about the 2011 presentation here. Download the order form.

Additional resources for end-of-life decision making and death and dying are available from Brethren Press.


Departing With Dignity—A Service of Celebration

Tulip Image 80x104The Good Shepherd Home in Fostoria, Ohio, has created a brief service that celebrates the life of each resident when they die. Before the deceased’s body is removed from the Home, family members, staff, and residents who wish to participate gather to pray and say goodbye. Click to download a copy of their service, Departing with Dignity: A Service of Celebration (PDF).