A Great Place to Grow Old by Tina English
Ministers, leaders, and concerned church members will be indebted to Tina English for this comprehensive and practical guide to ministry among older people
A Great Place to Grow Old: re-imagining ministry among old people
By Tina English
Darton Longman and Todd
Reviewed by Philip Clements-Jewery
The author is the founder of the faith-inspired charity, Embracing Age, dedicated to improving the lives of older people, of whom there are an ever-increasing number in the UK. Furthermore, the church is ageing even faster than the general population. How, then, are churches going to address this issue to a greater extent than they are doing so at present? Zechariah 8.4-5 suggests that the believing community should be a great place for people to grow old, as well as a great place for the younger generation to grow up.
Ministers, leaders, and concerned church members will be indebted to Tina English for this comprehensive and practical guide to ministry among older people. The range of topics covered is impressive: dementia, support for carers, ministry in care homes (to both residents and staff), activities in church buildings, suggestions for when no church buildings are available, how to reach out evangelistically to older people, and much more.
What is especially helpful is the wealth of examples and ideas from many different church initiatives, with endnotes providing the necessary references and internet addresses. One idea that particularly struck me was the suggestion that church parent and toddler groups could arrange to meet at a care home, to the mutual benefit of all concerned. This, and other ideas suggested in the book, might be more possible now that Covid restrictions are being eased (although the recent rise in cases this summer might suggest that continuing caution might be advisable).
Everyone who has a passion for reaching out to and ministering to older people will profit from this book. Overflowing with ideas and suggestions, it might prove difficult to discern which one in particular is appropriate in any given context. But that is the value of this book, that it provides so much advice and practical ways to support (and receive from) older people. Graham Tomlin, the Bishop of Kensington, is quoted on the back cover as saying, 'If you want to know where to start with ministry among older people, this is a great place to begin'.
Amen to that! Highly recommended.
Philip Clements-Jewery is a retired Baptist minister living in Huddersfield