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When a Young Congregation has Older Members

As a younger church (at least by PCUSA standards), First Pres finds itself in an odd situation. Our handful of older members who do not use e-mail and Facebook and Twitter are often excluded from a great deal of what goes on in our community of faith. Sure, we print out and mail hard copies of the weekly e-newsletter to those who request it, but our “offline” members still miss out on all the celebrations and conversations that the rest of us learn about and engage in on the World Wide Interweb.

Our oldest members are even further removed from our community since most everyone they “grew up” with in the church has moved on. And since about 85-90% of our membership joined the church in the last two-and-a-half years, there isn’t anyone around to remember the days when our elderly members were the ones who taught Sunday school and kept the books and helped the homeless and the hungry who came to the door. While we love our older members, we love them for who they are now, but don’t share in the memory of who they used to be.

There are folks in our church who are committed to keeping in regular contact with our elderly members and some who make sure that those who need a ride always have one. But we can all be a part of making sure the people who stuck it out (even when it was dangerous to come into our neighborhood at night) feel loved and appreciated. What our octogenarian and nonagenarian members would really like is a call, a visit or even an actual handwritten note or card sent by snail mail. When was the last time you wrote a thank you or get well note that required a stamp?

Perhaps those of us who live our lives online can set our calendars to remind us once or twice a week to pop a card in the mail, make a phone call or stop by to say hello. You can even get Siri to send you a reminder. “Hello, reminding you to make contact with someone who is 80 or older today.”

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