Family & Age-level Ministries: Celebrate National Grandparents Day
According to the Census Bureau, the United States will have 72 million grandparents by 2005. By 2010, that number will rise to 80 million.
Since 1978, the United States has observed the first Sunday after Labor Day as National Grandparents Day. Many United Methodist congregations use this Sunday to honor all older adults, to give grandparents an opportunity to show love for their grandchildren and to help children learn of the strength, information and guidance older people can offer.
Many older adults do not have family living nearby. The church can help fill the void of loneliness many older adults experience. In every community, there are elderly persons who would welcome an opportunity to be part of a family's life. Your congregation can open doors to foster fulfillment and be a blessing in the lives of older adults.
As Grandparents Day approaches, congregations can:
• Invite young people or families to "adopt" older adults in the congregation. Include everyone—whether or not they have grandchildren. Invite the family to pray for the older adult and to write a special note or card in honor of Grandparents Day. Sit together during worship and, if possible, share a meal, play games, visit a museum or see a movie.
• Invite older adults to "adopt" a child or young family. Older adults can become "grandparents" for the children of the church by preparing a meal, sending cards and corresponding by e-mail.
• Invite youth to interview older church members and record the information in a journal, on audiocassette or on video. Find ways of sharing the interviews during Sunday school or worship.
• Involve older adults in planning and conducting the worship service on National Grandparents Day. Ask them to serve as greeters, ushers, readers and liturgists or song leaders. Keep in mind that there is a great diversity in the age of grandparents. Some are in their 30s and 40s, while others are in their 80s and 90s. Plan your celebration to reflect the age differences.
• Following Sunday morning worship, hold a special dinner recognizing older adults and celebrating their various ministries.
• Encourage young people and families to visit homebound adults and residents of continuing care and retirement communities.
Millions of grandparents in our society are responsible for raising their grandchildren. What is your congregation doing on a regular basis to help grandparents raise their grandchildren and to help children grow in the Christian faith?
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--Richard H. Gentzler Jr., General Board of Discipleship