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Older people are ready to be trained for ministry

20 May 2010


From Mr Paul B. Godwin

Sir, — Canon James Woodward is accurate in his assessment of the numbers of older people attending church (Comment, 7 May). There is both a challenge to the Church and an opportunity for some different expressions of how churches meet people. Before people retire from paid employment, many now plan their options. Too many become isolated in later years.

The Church could be licensing more Readers or licensed lay min­isters, and training for ordination people already beyond their 60th year. The world of secular em­ployment is valuing experience, but, in the current economic situ­ation, fixed contractual employment ages are still the norm.

By giving a lead in the area of volunteering, the Church could say that the straitjacket of insurance should be put aside, and people should be encouraged to learn new skills and take on pastoral respons­ibilities. This might free the full-time clergy, or it might allow more chaplaincy in hospitals. All the time, these people would remain under the care and guidance of the vicar or area dean. Activity prolongs people’s quality of life in the later years.

If more people were encouraged to learn basic sign language, then others might feel less isolated. I once taught a student newly arrived from Canada. She explained that learning to sign was a skill that many children were taught at school.

(Licensed lay minister)
Holly Cottage, Oxford Road
Oxon OX17 3NQ

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