Beliefnet
Doing Life Together

My 90- year-old father has always been an easy going person. It takes a lot to get him to a point that he feels he must confront someone.

A year ago, my mom passed away. She had been very ill and was in a nursing home and hospice for several months. During that time, my dad and others in my family had asked the pastor of their church to visit my mom–just a few miles from the church offices. No one ever came and I wrote a blog about this, Neglecting the Elderly.

So last winter, my dad took his pastor (my dad has been a member of his church for 60 plus years and has served faithfully) to breakfast. Dad confronted the pastor and told him that his lack of pastoral care was unacceptable. The pastor laughed uncomfortably, promised to do better and told my dad that he would treat him to breakfast next time. Dad thought his breakfast meeting would make a difference. It didn’t.

My dad attends church every Sunday and is active in his Senior group. The pastor has not called even once to check on him or taken him to breakfast as promised. It has been a year now and not even a phone call. The church is blocks from my dad’s home.

As a family, we’ve given up trying to change the lack of attention to the elderly in this church. My brother, also a pastor, has met with this pastor and also talked to him. I have confronted him. My aunt has begged him to visit once in awhile. And to all of us, he promises to do better but makes no behavioral change. And that is the disturbing part. Do not promise us, and especially my father, that you will visit and then never do it. It would be better to admit that you have no interest in this type of pastoral care.

What is sad is that it would take such little effort to brighten my dad’s day and feel cared about by his pastor. To his generation, this is very important. And the pastor knows how this older generation values his attention.It is a small town with people who have been in the church for generations and served faithfully.

I am thankful that others fill in the gap. So thank you to the elderly group who takes care of each other. Thanks to Oscar and Mart who every week send my dad meals because they prepare a little extra and feel it is a nice gesture. It means so much.

Thanks to Aunt Betty and Uncle Harold who come and help whenever dad needs something, to Phil who takes him all around town and goes out to eat–these are the people who take a little time during their day to care. And to dad’s former pastor of over 20 plus years ago, who still calls him to check on him, Pastor Raymond. He calls a few times a year, but it means so much to my dad. Dad brought his cell phone with him to visit me. Hours after getting off the plane, he said, “I brought my phone to call Pastor Raymond. He thinks of me during the year and I want to wish him a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

Me too! Thanks Pastor Raymond for being someone who cares about the elderly. You  have a pastor’s heart and care about your people. And thanks to the community of believers who tangibly show their care for the aging. This is a group who needs our attention. And someday, we will be the ones who hope people don’t forget about us.

 

How is your church doing when it comes to pastoral care to the elderly? Any suggestions as to how to interest church leadership in this need?

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