Creative Ideas for Ministry with the Aged
Canterbury Press £24.99 (including CD ROM)
Church Times Bookshop £22.50
THE title made me wince. We don't often use the label "the aged"
these days. There is, however, no better descriptor for what this
book aims to do - and achieves. Sue Pickering, a chaplain working
with the retirement community in New Plymouth in New Zealand, has
compiled her insights and resource material in a most generous and
competent manner. In this substantial volume you will find ideas
and encouragement that, until now, have been available only
haphazardly in Britain.
While the focus is on ministry to frail older people, there are
sections such as "Accompanying the Dying" and "Spiritual
Conversations" which are relevant to ministry across age groups.
Likewise, the material is relevant to both lay and priestly
ministry. Pickering bestows a gift to all those who exercise
pastoral care. What she offers is down to earth and full of
hard-won insights, besides presenting a challenge to those inclined
to ascribe low priority to ministry to "the aged". In perusing
these pages, one uncovers the magnitude and import of ministry to
those whom our society is inclined to disregard.
It is not a book to be read from beginning to end. This is a
book of resources which offers exceptional riches, so detailed that
the author almost holds your hand as you venture into the nursing
home or to the bedside of the dying. The book also comes with a CD
ROM (it worked first time!) that provides thorough notes for
leaders, services for all the church seasons, including service
sheets (as single pages and "spreads"), all the workbooks and the
material for reflective conversations - in fact, everything that is
on the closely packed pages is present on the CD. Support for the
task couldn't be made easier or more helpful. What Pickering
provides is both comprehensive and meticulous. As a result, this
book and CD ROM are guaranteed to become a well-used and much loved
resource, reached for to aid "last-minute" preparation, as well as
spurring the imagination to produce one's own material.
With the exception of Methodist Homes, chaplains in care homes
are thin on the ground. Given the availability of the material that
Pickering has compiled, it will be possible to create a foundation
for recruitment and training of such specialists. The Church of
England has some catching up to do in the development of work with
older people, and needs to lean on the experience of the Methodist
Church and Anglicans in Australia and New Zealand, where such
ministry has always been a priority.
Having given exceptional praise for this book, I have a gripe
that I direct to the publishers. This volume is part of the
Creative Ideas Series that has been launched by Canterbury Press.
Little flair, however, seems to have been brought to the design and
layout of the material. This means that the structure and rich
detail of what is on offer can take some discerning; but it
certainly repays the effort.
Ann Morisy is an associate of PSALM, an organisation that
encourages churches in London to take seriously the positive
contribution of faith to later life.