‘Not Getting Any Younger’ – and other great courses for older people!

Catriona Foster reports on the latest course for older people which took place at  St John’s during the last six months.

“We face a number of different issues as we get older – some positive, some more difficult – but it can really help to know that we’re not alone – there are others around who grapple with similar situations and transitions.  Sharing such experiences together in the safety and fun of small group discussions has been one of the main benefits of the recent course for Over 70’s at St John’s.

Course leaflet“Not Getting Any Younger (aka NGAY) provided opportunity to look at some of the issues of older age and explore together something of what the bible says about older age.  The course followed the very popular “Pilgrim’s Progress” which we have now run twice using an excellent resource written by Elizabeth Stacey (available from The Outlook Trust   We’ve also run a 6 week course called “Growing Faith” which drew on illustrations from the world of gardening to explore various issues of faith in older age.

“The themes at NGAY included: transitions; our identity; living fruitful lives in our later years; looking back –to celebrate and give thanks for the past, and to consider healing wounds and putting things right; and looking forward – to consider ways in which we might prepare for the future, both practically and spiritually.  In the small group discussions each week we looked at a bible passage and considered some questions related to the theme of the particular session.

Group studying the leaflet“Over the last few years, as we have run these courses for older people, it has become clear that there are certain elements of these times which are particularly beneficial.  The social aspect of meeting together and chatting over coffee and cake for example, is an important part, as is the opportunity to vocalise your own ideas and experiences, if you want to.  So in the ‘Not Getting Any Younger’ course there was a fair amount of audience participation – sometimes that was a sharing of memories, sometimes it involved taking part in a fun quiz, at other times it involved grappling with some of the issues we face.  The old adage rings true – “Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.”

Group discussion “As with the previous courses, we laughed a lot but we also had plenty opportunity for quiet reflection.  Another helpful element in all these courses has been to provide material for personal reflection at home – as well as being a memory aid, for some people these additional prayers, readings and thoughts have proved to be an important and precious aspect of their deepening faith journey.  Practical things matter too – providing transport or large-print notes for those who require them, and ensuring the environment is comfortable and that people feel at ease.

“As is so often the case where groups of people come together to learn and share, these courses have been invaluable for those who attend and many have found them to be really significant in their personal journeys of faith.  One participant has written, ‘I have learned to look at old age in a very different way during the course, and am now determined to laugh at things that I got depressed about’.  Another has written, ‘The courses have given encouragement and assurance that God cares for each and every one of us.  NGAY leaves us with a great sense of hope’.”




25th Mar 2015 Posted in: News, St John's Stories by Stella Jennings 0

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