ALOA offers resources for older adult ministry

With the number of older adults steadily increasing, The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod, like the country, is slowly going gray.  Is your congregation ready to assist these seniors and soon-to-be seniors in making the most of their gifts and talents in service to the church?

The Association of Lutheran Older Adults (ALOA), an LCMS Recognized Service Organization, stands ready to help.  ALOA was formed in the early 1990s by leaders in the Missouri Synod and Evangelical Lutheran Church in America to prepare the church for “the age wave.”  

ALOA believes “older adults are today’s church — not yesterday’s” and its mission is “to be a resource to the Lutheran Church that strengthens ministry by, for, and with older adults.”

Dr. Loren Kramer, current ALOA president and former president of the Synod’s Pacific Southwest District, says he believes “the rapidly increasing number of people in the ‘plus-60’ age group calls for the church to do its very best to harness the time, talent, and energy of those members for the good of the kingdom.

“ALOA recognizes that there are really three categories of seniors,” he said, “sometimes characterized as the ‘go-goes, the slow-goes, and the no-goes.’  The church needs to address the concerns and needs of all three groups, and minister — to, through, with, by, and for — all three.”

Kramer said that ALOA tries to “inform, inspire, and involve people in faith- and life-enriching experiences” through events like Lutherhostels and SeniorFests.

Lutherhostels are four- to five-day national events that provide a learning experience on various topics in retreat-like settings.  (See related story.)

SeniorFests are regional one- to two-day events co-sponsored by districts, seminaries, and other institutions.  The remaining SeniorFests this year are April 5 in Dayton, Ohio; May 28 in Irvine, Calif.; July 31 in Topton, Penn.; and Aug. 2 in Philadelphia. 

ALOA also sponsors pastor-led educational pilgrimages.  Slated trips for this year are: April 15-May 2 to Turkey; Oct. 13-24 to Italy; and Dec. 3-13, a “Christmas Market Cruise” on Europe’s Danube River.  Information about a 2010 pilgrimage to the Oberammergau Passion Play is available on the ALOA Web site.

As part of its three-year emphasis titled “Passing on the Faith,” Kramer says ALOA is encouraging “seniors to share their Christian faith with others, particularly family members and grandchildren.”  He recommends a book titled Lessons I Learned in Life — For My Grandchildren, written by a former ALOA president, and available through the organization.

Other ALOA resources include:

  • Bless the Years, which contains liturgy and suggestions for implementation of a special service to honor seniors.  The liturgy is available for download on the ALOA Web site.

  • Guide for Older Adult Ministry, a tool designed to assist congregations in planning this ministry ($10).

  • Manuals for organizing ALOA Lutherhostels and SeniorFests.

  • Share the Years, a discussion guide and Bible study on 37 topics related to aging, designed for use by senior adult Bible classes, adult forums, and as a community outreach event ($30 plus $5 for shipping).

ALOA also provides a list of resources designed for use in workshops and congregations, and for caregivers, devotions, and mentoring, plus more than 25 books on the role and faith life of the older adult in today’s church.

The organization offers online courses for seniors through Lutheran Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, a seminary of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

Scheduled courses are:

  • “Peter and Paul: Agents of Change” (May-June);

  • “Singing with Mind and Spirit: Hymns of the Church” (October-November); and

  • “With All Your Mind: An Introduction to Christian Theology” (February-March 2009).

Membership in ALOA is available to individuals over age 50, congregations, social ministry organizations, districts, and others. 

For more information about ALOA, call (800) 930-ALOA (2562), or visit its Web site at www.aloaserves.org.

Posted March 20, 2008

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