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  • Writer's pictureDebbie Thrower

Thought-provoking study of old age

Updated: Jan 20, 2020

It's always satisfying to see people's work come to fruition. Congratulations to Jeremy Beatty, who has completed his work on investigating 'models of theology underpinning ministries for, with and by older people.' One of those models is Anna Chaplaincy. Jeremy is currently a curate in Manchester, and his recent dissertation was awarded a distinction.

Revd Jeremy Beatty: 'I have learned something of the joys and struggles of getting older and have been able to develop an interpretive framework for considering how ministries engage with these realities.'

Different models

As it's such an important and wide-ranging topic, all 90 pages bear careful reading for those involved in such work. He unpacks several different models of ministry – Intergenerational, Community, Individual, Mission and Christological – and explores the theology underpinning each one. To read the dissertation, click here.

For example, he sees strength in what he calls the Communities Model, which 'asserts that older peoples’ perspectives and experiences equip them to collectively embrace the opportunities and challenges of getting older. People join themselves to formal and informal groups and inhabit communities connected to, for example, activities and interests, families, place, health, occupation or religion.'

Shared journey

The Communities Model, he writes, 'requires there to be awareness of the shared journey that is getting older. The community that is Christian faith merits specific attention through which its members can consider and explore faith questions together, wrestle with the meaning and outworking of reconciliation and strengthen their collective identity through faith-filled memories. Getting older together, in the context of Christian faith, creates other opportunities to belong to a breadth of communities, and ministries for, with and by older people have the potential to support and facilitate these.'

Having been interviewed by Jeremy, it was fascinating for me to read what others had said too, and see which quotes he had decided were most germane to his discussion. Other organisations interviewed for his dissertation included Faith in Later Life, the Pilgrims’ Friend Society and Faith in Older People.

Jeremy says, 'I have thoroughly enjoyed the study and hope that the arguments I have put forward will positively shape my own ministry here in Greater Manchester.'

Learning from older people

As a minister and volunteer chaplain, he concludes: 'I am using the models to inform the ways in which I interact with older people. This is expressed, for example, in expecting to learn from older people and in encouraging the exploration and discussion of spiritual and existential questions. I am hoping to be able to take these developments further through regular involvement in an older person’s congregation that meets at the church where I am serving curacy, in Marple, Stockport. I am glad that the strong-willed youth, who was quick to dismiss older people’s wisdom and experience in the name of modernisation, has become more circumspect, slower to judge and quicker to perceive the many positive associations that, "old", getting old, and "being old", can carry.'



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