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Churches Minister to Boomers

Some houses of worship meet older adults' personal as well as spiritual needs

Dealing with life challenges

Boomer church members face other challenging and unexpected transitions. While many still work, others have retired or are capping off long careers. Some have lost jobs, and in the aftermath, their self-worth, says Grubb, the United Methodist minister in Georgia. In its Crossroads Career Network Ministry, the church assists with résumé writing, interviewing and networking through social media.

"Most of our people were in management, sales or technology fields. They have seen their retirement dwindle as they have had to draw on it to meet daily expenses," Grubb says. "We try to address the emotional and spiritual issues they face" while enduring "ageism in the job market."

Boomers seeking answers to life's curveballs may desire to deepen their spirituality through Bible studies, prayer and meditation, says the Rev. Flora Hartford, 63, associate pastor at St. David's Lutheran Church on Long Island, N.Y. They're active in the contemporary music group, which performs at church services. "Members are intergenerational and have strong bonds and ties with one another."

Churches can offer mentoring programs for boomers to advise peers and younger attendees, says the Rev. Richard Bergstrom, 61, executive pastor at Northshore Baptist Church near Seattle, where he oversees the 2nd Half Ministry for older adults. Its multifaceted approach includes social events, service opportunities and focus groups. "We assembled a dream team of people in that age bracket to envision their own ministry," he says.

Six years ago, the dream team invited a boomer-age band that belted out Beatles tunes. That struck a resounding note, and the boomer bash became an annual rock 'n' roll party with food to revitalize the body and soul. "It's a winning combination," Bergstrom says.

Or in the words of one boomer concertgoer: "I haven't had this much fun in church, well — ever!"

Susan Kreimer is a writer in New York.

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