Every day 10,000 Americans become 65 years old, a demographic trend that will continue through 2029. This “age wave” impacts all sectors of our society, not the least of which is the faith community. How is your congregation strategically planning for the inevitable growing needs of an aging membership? Will your other vital ministries also be sustained? Does the church have a unique role to play in an aging mission field? When it comes to caring for people who are aging and nearing the end of life, we can strengthen our ministry with our Minnesota Council of Churches’ Graceful Journey program.
Graceful Journey is a unique public engagement program, providing support and tools through congregations to help people contemplate end-of-life decisions in the context of their faith community. Through Graceful Journey, a community experiences transformation as they, together, learn to support and care for each other during life’s ultimate journey. The program has two components: Workshops facilitated by trained Faith Ambassadors and delivered in congregations; and Congregation of Care team trainings that prepare congregations to develop distinctive support systems.
Minnesota Council of Churches developed Graceful Journey because we know that life is a journey. People make decisions at every stage of life – where to live, who to marry, which school to attend, what kind of vacation to take, what profession we choose. Although most people want to avoid talking about and making decisions about the end of life, the consequences of not having the discussion can be costly and grim. Graceful Journey presentations provide the tools to spur those conversations. They help people make important decisions in advance on the basis of deeply held religious beliefs, not in the moment when fear and anxiety are often more present.
Graceful Journey workshops will soon be delivered in the Duluth area, and we are recruiting Faith Ambassadors to train for them. Faith Ambassadors should feel called to help people face the end of life in a more graceful fashion, be comfortable speaking in front of people, and be willing to receive a stipend on a per-presentation basis. Two days of training in the Graceful Journey modules will be provided. To learn more and apply to become a Duluth-area Faith Ambassador, click here.
In Congregations of Care, teams from different faith communities devise strategies and ministries to serve the aging in their context. They recommit to caring for the elderly members of their communities and innovate the best ways to do so as they meet with others about four times in the course of six months. Team members emerge with new information and a ready-to-implement ministry plan. This long-term training program has a waiting list. To add your name to the Congregations of Care waiting list, email Mary Walesch.