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2024 Older Adult Retreat Focuses on Ageism and Spirituality

On April 18, the presbytery’s Older Adult Ministry hosted an event exploring aging, age discrimination, and spirituality. The program included soul-enriching worship, good food, interesting fellowship, and inspiring music in the pastoral setting of Camp Hanover.

Starting the day, Elder Adrienne Knight, worship leader at Knox Presbyterian Church in Baltimore, guided participants through activities to explore their spirituality. A variety of choices allowed guests to choose one or more that suited their interests and/or abilities.

A tabletop sand garden provided an indoor, seated activity for participants with mobility challenges. The peaceful movement of a tiny rake through the sand invited spiritual contemplation and prayer.

Another activity involved venturing outside into the environment of Camp Hanover for a spiritual scavenger hunt. Participants looked for items that reminded them of scripture among the natural items and the scenery around them. For example, a pinecone sparked thoughts of Jesus’s parable of the seeds. Photographs guests captured during the exercise were used in the event’s closing worship.

Adrienne Knight
Dr. Tracey Gendron

Get Involved with Older Adult Ministry

The Older Adult Ministry aims to host two events per year, in the spring and fall. They welcome committee members to help plan interesting and relevant activities. To get involved, contact George Whipple, moderator.

After lunch, Dr. Tracey Gendron, chair of the Gerontology department of Virginia Commonwealth University, helped eventgoers to see aging from a different perspective. She reminded the audience that aging is a wholistic experience, impacting our biology, our sociology, our psychology, and our spirituality.

Though our culture deems aging as something to be avoided, it is an inevitable process. Dr. Gendron encouraged participants to view aging as natural and positive.

“It’s multidimensional and multidirectional, meaning we experience some decline, but we also experience simultaneous growth,” she shared.

Dr. Gendron recommended four questions to help individuals shift their perspective on aging:

  • What do you think it means to be old?
  • What does it mean to be young?
  • How do you feel about your own aging?
  • How do you talk about growing older?

Explore these questions yourself and with those around you for an insightful conversation. Your efforts can help break down stigmas and fears about aging, leading to positive social change.

Participants shared positive feedback on the insight they gained into themselves and the topics covered during the program. Many left inspired to pass along the information with others in their congregations, including their pastoral leaders.

Participants enjoyed visiting Camp Hanover's grounds, including meeting the resident tortoises, chickens, and goats.
The peace and beauty of nature inspired spiritual contemplation during the retreat.