MINISTRY WITH THE AGING by William M.--Ed. Clements


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Seventeen essays, some of them quite good, surveying old age from a Christian pastoral perspective. Editor Clements has assembled a solid panel of gerontologists, psychologists, historians, theologians, and ministers, with a rich collective fund of insight and practical experience. If their contributions have a note of urgency--and guilt--it is because the Church, like the rest of America, has been slow to adjust to the demographic revolution that has created a much larger population of old people (a 257 percent increase in worshippers over 65 since the turn of the century) with fewer children and family resources to rely on. Clements himself sketches out the statistical dimensions of the crisis in his introduction. Professors Rolf Knierim and Jean Laporte then examine, respectively, the biblical view of old age and the role of the elderly in the early Church. Martin Marty, for his part, looks into the ""cultural antecedents"" to contemporary ideas on aging. In the period between the Civil War and World War I, Marry observes, organized Christian philanthropy paid little attention to the elderly as such. By the time the Church began to recognize that old people constituted a ""problem"" in need of special attention, ""the ideology of social welfare for the aged had then passed into the hands of those who established settlement houses, who professionalized urban care on secular terms."" Subsequent chapters study ethical aspects of aging (mutual responsibilities of the elderly and the rest of society), dying (KÃœbler-Ross et al.), retirement, adult religious education, and so forth. And a few authors discuss the concrete details of working with and caring for the elderly--in the home, the parish, or institutions like the innovative Shepherd's Center in Kansas City. The approach is consistently realistic and free of conventional piety (there is, characteristically, almost no mention of the afterlife). A thoughtful, informative collection that anyone involved in ministry with old people would do well to consult.

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 1980
ISBN: 0866569340
Publisher: Harper & Row