First Evangelical Free Church of Fullerton, California, is a gigantic church where Chuck Swindoll’s preaching is supplemented by programs for every age and interest. David Jobe is the assistant pastor for Senior Adult Ministries, a job he developed after making a proposal while he was a layman.

His energy has sparked a wide variety of activities for the elderly, including twice-a-month support groups for the children of dependent adults, telephone counseling committees, an intergenerational musical (Side by Side), and outreach in local nursing homes. But the heart of their program is a weekly Friday program. It includes a monthly luncheon, a monthly trip, and in the spring and fall semi-monthly “discipleship breakfasts.” Most of the active participants are church members, who live in suburban Orange County.

• Janet Yancey’s seniors program at Chicago’s LaSalle Street Church bears programmatic similarities to Jobe’s—luncheons and trips—but its constituents are very different. She reaches out to a large number of “SROs” (Single Room Occupants) who live isolated, indigent lives. Many have not seen the inside of a church in years. Not only do they get a hot meal in the LaSalle Street Church basement once a week, but they get an education in living together.

“They need to learn to care for people,” says Yancey. “We talk about birthdays, who’s sick, who is in hospitals. I talk about what’s acceptable: You pick up your own stuff and put it in the trash. If you get up to get food, check to see if anybody else wants some. Have you asked your neighbors or friends how they are?”

• Pat Parker works part-time at Pennsylvania’s Drexel Hill Baptist Church, in a job she initiated while taking classes in social work. Initially she offered herself as a volunteer, but the church was enthusiastic and now pays her for 12 hours a week. She offers few organized programs, but puts most of her energies into staying in touch with those unable to participate in regular church services. “I take them Communion. Sometimes I do things like take them out to lunch. Or get them together. I try to link retired people to the frail elderly.”

By Tim Stafford.

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