Support for older people on the agenda at Gift of Years day

Resourcing the Church for mission and ministry among those rich in age and experience will be the subject of a conference in Crickhowell on Thursday.

Changing demographics mean a ripe mission field is emerging among the growing proportion of women and men living in to their 80s, 90s and beyond. Responding to increased longevity is a challenge both for the ageing individual and the wider church.

The Gift of Years  information and training day unpacks the practical Anna Chaplaincy approach to supporting older people. It opens eyes to the possibilities of forging partnerships within communities, inspiring and equipping volunteers, and creating ‘church’ where people are – whether they live alone, in sheltered homes, care homes or retirement complexes. It is about embodying the love of God for people at every age and stage of their lives.

Debbie Thrower will outline a variety of community-based ways of building mission and ministry among older people and will explore strategies which celebrate the contributions of people in the second half of life. This is a day to help clergy and lay people see valuing age as a desirable necessity, and to give them tools to respond to unprecedented population changes. It is taking place in Crickhowell where the Rev Sally Rees (a member of The Gift of Years national network) in partnership with Swansea and Brecon Diocese Lay Pastoral Visiting teams are modelling new ways of reaching out to people in the community in their later years.

Debbie Thrower is team leader of The Gift of Years- ‘resourcing the spiritual journey of older people’ for The Bible Reading Fellowship (BRF).  She founded the ecumenical Anna Chaplaincy model in 2010 and has seen the network of Anna Chaplains and those engaged in similar ministry gain traction across the UK. Debbie is a licensed lay minister, a former BBC and ITV broadcaster and she remains a part-time Anna Chaplain in Alton, Hampshire.

The training day takes place from 10am -3.30pm at St Edmund’s Church, Church Lane, Crickhowell, NP8 1BB.