Church urged to be 'agent of change' for older people
Christian leaders, politicians and supporters of the work of Faith in Later Life gathered in Parliament last week to celebrate the new season of the work of the charity.
The Faith in Later Life Reception, hosted by Jim Shannon MP drew together those who had been on the journey since the beginning and those newer partnerships, including with Neighbourhood Prayer Network and Keswick Ministries.
Faith in Later Life was launched following a consultation with a range of Christian organisations, thinking about how churches and individual Christians can best reach, serve and empower older people within the church as well as more widely in society.
Since 2017, Faith in Later Life has become a leading voice for the church in matters relating to older age, with over 1.5 million hearing about its work in the media, learning of its library of resources as well as its Activities Directory, which lists around 2,500 church led activities across the UK, all focused on those in later life.
In his presentation in Parliament, Carl Knightly, CEO of Faith in Later Life, urged Christians to be at the heart of changing the societal narrative around older people. Knightly said that Faith in Later Life is about 'rallying the UK Church' to not see older people, particularly outside the church, as an optional extra, but at the heart of its mission – and to recognise the rich benefits and wisdom brought by older church members.
Jim Shannon MP spoke about the almost 12 million older people (aged 65+) in the UK, which equates to 18% of the population. He said "we know that many churches across the UK have a larger proportion of older people. So the church is ageing, but this doesn’t have to be seen negatively, and opportunities for older Christians to play a key part in their church are significant – as churches reach out to older people everywhere."
Moving forward for Faith in Later Life, 2020 sees the launch of a new book entitled Finishing Well published by SPCK, a conference entitled Faith in the Second Half in partnership with Keswick Ministries in May, and working with Neighbourhood Prayer Network on ‘Neighbour Sunday’, taking place on Sunday 12 October 2020.
Speaking after the Parliamentary Reception, Carl Knightly, CEO of Faith in Later Life said:
"Being in Parliament to celebrate how Faith in Later Life has grown since it's foundation in 2017 was humbling and encouraging; as we brought together old and new friends together in a room to see how we can continue to provide encouragement, support and challenge, to churches and Christians across the nation and beyond.
“Having recently been awarded charitable status, we now have a springboard to develop our work even further, which we hope will galvanise our activity and impact.
“Our passion is for the local church to be at the heart of societal change, and for older Christians to know their Kingdom value. We dare to believe that if the Church can lead the charge by fully recognising the value of older people, and by empowering older Christians, we could see the nation change!"