Center for Ministry with the Frail
As our population, and thus the church, continues to age in ever increasing numbers, there is tremendous opportunity for ministry with the frail. All congregations have members, or extended family of members, who desire a continued connection to the church when their frailty issues prevent them from attending on their own. The Center for Ministry with the Frail (CMF) offers resources for pastors or laity who serve this population, focusing on the special ministry needs of the frail and their families in areas of worship, care, caregiving, hospice, community resources, volunteer training/support, discipleship and service.
The CMF is based on the Silver Link model of ministry with the frail at The United Methodist Church of the Resurrection. Silver Link Ministry maintains a connection with persons who are frail or have dementia focusing on Psalm 71:9; “Do not cast me off in the time of old age; do not forsake me when my strength is spent.” (NRSV)
Frailty itself is a journey of physical, social, cognitive, sensory or mobility issues that can combine in many different ways to cause loss of strength and lowered activity. Dementia (Alzheimer’s Disease and related disorders) can profoundly affect people’s ability to engage in their continued faith journey. This Center’s resources are fully available to download and adapt to your specific ministry setting.
The Center on Ministry for the Frail is in partnership with the Center on Aging and Older Adult Ministries, General Board of Discipleship, United Methodist Church at www.gbod.org/coa. The Center on Aging and Older Adult Ministries, directed by Richard H. Gentzler, offers resources and support for Older Adult Ministries.
Discipleship and Service
All people in a church family, including the frail, need the opportunity to grow in their faith and be in Christian service. Discipleship for the frail is designed to be easily accessible and attuned to potential hearing, vision or cognitive (dementia) issues. CMF provides discipleship suggestions that honor the frail and help them to be life-long disciples of Jesus Christ. Service resources are designed with the needs of the frail in mind, offering them positive opportunities to serve Christ as a part of a church family.
Caregiving and Volunteers
People who are frail require support in their journey as they are unable to meet their needs for safety, security, nutrition, physical/emotional/spiritual care. Family caregivers are a key source of support for their frail family members. The burden for family caregivers is often immense.
Volunteers are a crucial part of the pastoral care team for ministry with the frail. Important elements for volunteers are excellent frailty/dementia communication skills and training/support for particular areas of service.
Worship for the Frail
Worship for the frail is designed to help them remember their own faith journey, and "re-member" into a family of faith. It also reminds them that even if they forget God, God never forgets them, and of God's love for them. To be effective and honoring, worship for the frail should be designed with the general “level of care” of the congregation in mind. The levels of care are independent living, assisted living, and skilled/dementia care. One Order of Worship can be used for all levels of care, but the sermon must be tailored to the specific worship needs of the level of the congregation.