Service Opportunities for Those in Transition
by William A. Decker, editor (July / August 2004 • Volume 20 • Number 4)
Our cover story, “Making a ‘Transitional’ Plan” by Stanley Meyer recasts “retirement” among pastors and rostered lay ministers into a time of “transition” involving one’s personal, professional, and spiritual goals. As you begin to pray and make plans for your transition, here are a few opportunities which you may wish to consider that are part of our Lutheran church.
You might want to investigate the ministry of the Association of Lutheran Older Adults (ALOA).
“ALOA began in the early 1990s as an effort by concerned Lutherans to help congregations become more effective in their ministries with older adults, to support caregivers, and to challenge older adults to continued service,” said Pastor Edwin B. Naylor, of Shepherdstown, West Virginia, who is the association’s executive director and a retired pastor.
He added that ALOA is a national, inter-Lutheran movement with an office in the Lutheran Center in Baltimore, Maryland which is built around twin messages: “Older adults are today’s church, not yesterday’s, and older adults are challenged to continue a life of service to church and community.”
Noting that a demographic surge of older Americans is coming when the oldest “boomers” will first begin to reach age 65 in 2011 (there are 76 million "boomers" altogether), Naylor said that ALOA’s board recently wrote a new mission statement: “The ALOA movement is a resource to the Lutheran Church that strengthens ministry by, for, and with older adults.”
Naylor said that ALOA sponsors events (Lutherhostels and international study pilgrimages); communicates quarterly with synod bishops and district presidents; prepares materials for congregational older adult Sunday celebrations; assists synods and districts with older adult planning; publishes a quarterly newsletter; and advocates for issues important to older adults.
ALOA also supports a national volunteer network. A new initiative features consultations with Lutheran seminaries that will strengthen professional preparation for older adult ministry.
ALOA has about 1,300 partners who provide financial and volunteer support. If interested in further information, call 800-930-ALOA or visit its Web site at http://ALOAserves.org.
Older adults often can use their skills and interests to support programs at camps, retreat centers, and other Outdoor Ministries.
Lutherhostels, sponsored by the above mentioned ALOA, sometimes take place at Outdoor Ministry locations, promoting learning, fellowship, and spiritual growth.
Outdoor Ministries often use older adults in their programming, including hosts for retreat groups and camp “grandparents” for the children. There are also specific grandparent/grandchild camps. Contact individual outdoor ministries for further information.
Some camps, which are searching for new camp directors, may initially be looking for a retired pastor or lay rostered minister to work as an interim camp director during the search. For further information, contact Mark Burkhardt, director of the ELCA Outdoor Ministries, Chicago, IL at (800) 638-3522 (ext. 2556) or email him at email@example.com
New places of worship and other church-related facilities often take their initial shape from ELCA Mission Builders, individuals from many walks of life who have a host of building skills. The volunteers are often older adults who have retired from their careers.
A typical project includes a team of volunteers with Mission Builders, members of the congregation, and professionals working side by side.
Contact Dean Hiner, director of Mission Builders at (800) 643-5295 for further information. You can also visit their Web site at www.elca.org/outreach/missionbuilders.
Lutheran Social Services
Volunteer opportunities abound among the nearly 300 health and human service organizations associated with the Lutheran Services in America (LSA) that provide care in 3,000 communities throughout the United States. Approximately 250,000 staff and volunteers provide services involving health care, disaster response, children and family concerns, elder care, adoption, and advocacy.
Individual Lutheran social service agencies often maintain a list of current volunteer needs. Such needs may include drivers to transport people to medical appointments or worship services, worship service assistance, baking, giving manicures, office duties, tutoring, reading stories to children, craft activities, landscaping and painting, and event planning, among others. A listing of service providers can be found on the Web site of LSA at http://applications.lutheranservices.org/lsapublic/search_providers.aspx or phone them at (800) 664-3848 if you need further assistance contacting any of LSA’s member organizations.
You may wish to explore the possibility of working overseas under the “Global Mission Volunteers of the ELCA” program.
Length of opportunities range from two months to two years. Positions are self-funded. Visit the Web site at www.elca.org/globalserve to obtain further information. Links to service with ELCA ecumenical partners and other volunteer agencies are also provided.
You can also contact the Division for Global Mission at ELCA, 8765 W. Higgins Road, Chicago, IL 60631; (800) 638-3522 (ext. 2648) to obtain information.
William A. Decker is editor of Lutheran Partners magazine, Chicago, Illinois.