Church 'must never see older people as problem'

A respected Baptist academic has called upon churches to ensure they are a welcoming home for Britain's ageing population.

Dr Roy Kearsley, of South Wales Baptist College, admitted that ageing was a challenge for church, mission and pastoral care.

He said that recent headlines about poor levels of care for older people in Britain were "disturbing" and indicative of a "social and spiritual crisis".

Recent reports, including most recently the Which? report last month, have revealed shocking levels of neglect by care workers across Britain. In some instances, older people do not have enough food and water, are forced to sleep in soiled beds, and are missing their medication.

The study was published just days after the Royal College of Nursing declared that care homes for the elderly are in crisis.

Dr Kearsley said: “These shocking revelations are impacting not just the elderly but also their family carers, voluntary carers and professionals of varied kinds.

"Our churches, though providing commendable services to the elderly, rarely have a broad, enlightened strategy for preparation and continuous support of the ageing, and their family carers."

He endorsed the call from James M Houston and Michael Parker in their recent book, "A vision for the ageing church", for healthy and active ageing rather than accepted decline.

"Retired people must never be simply seen as a problem or burden for congregations to carry but rather as a vital key to church renewal and mission," said Dr Kearsley.

"Let mutual interaction, learning and community between younger and older generations in church life mutually refresh and enrich the generations and a church’s life.”