What’s age got to do with it?
Faith in Later Life seeks to enable individual Christians and churches to reach, serve and empower older people in every community. Carl Knightly explains more
There are more than 11.9 million people aged 65 and over in the UK, with this figure projected to rise in the next 17 years to over 16 million. Of this group, 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. It seems that older people are so easily forgotten by Society, written off and deemed unable to contribute in later years.
But this isn’t true. 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”.
Betty is a prime example of an older person flourishing in God’s service and still bearing fruit. Asked by her local church to come up to the front 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 people inside and outside the church, for 70 years.
On a mission to hear more stories like Betty’s, Faith in Later Life (www.faithinlaterlife.org) was established in 2017 by a group of Christian charities that have been engaging with older people for hundreds of years (London City Mission, The Salvation Army, Keychange, Pilgrims’ Friend Society, and Mission Care), to enable individual Christians and churches to reach, serve and empower older people in every community.
Faith in Later Life is also keen to shine a light on the gifts and wisdom that older Christians have, often built up over a lifetime of following Jesus.
Does your church have a ministry with older people?
Faith in Later Life seeks to equip churches through its online resource hub of over 150 books and articles, each relating to different aspects of later life. The website also holds a national interactive map of 2500 church led social activities, so older people everywhere can see what churches near them are providing community and friendship to those in later life. Is your church’s Seniors activity on our directory?
And with a network of over 135 ‘church champions’ across the UK and beyond, churches are able to stay updated with our work, share new resources, and encourage those around them. What a great encouragement it was to hear from an 81 year old who wanted to become a church champion because “she had a passion for helping the older people” in her church! Does your church have a Faith in Later Life ‘Church Champion’?
We envision a Society where Christians are leading the change, starting by serving and affirming the older members of their congregations, but also empowering them, recognising all the gifts and wisdom they have, as well as the faith that has guided them throughout their lives. And we have exciting plans for 2020 and beyond.
In February Faith in Later Life held a special parliamentary reception to celebrate recent Charitable status, reflect on the all that has happened since our launch, and share our plans with supporters. Since 2017, Faith in Later Life has become a leading voice for the church in matters relating to older age, with over 1.5 million hearing about its work in the media, and learning of its library of resources as well as its Activities Directory.
And there is much to look forward to this year and beyond. 2020 sees the launch of a new book entitled Finishing Well published by SPCK, a conference entitled Faith in the Second Half in partnership with Keswick Ministries happening in May, and we are also working with Neighbourhood Prayer Network on ‘Neighbour Sunday’, due to take place on Sunday 12 October 2020.
Our passion is for older people to be reached with the good news of Jesus, for the local church to be at the heart of societal change, and for older Christians to know their Kingdom value. We dare to believe that if the Church can lead the charge by fully recognising the value of older people, and by empowering older Christians, we could see the nation change!
For more information and to join us on our mission, visit www.faithinlaterlife.org or search ‘faith in later life’ across all major social media platforms.
Carl Knightly is the CEO of Faith in Later Life