The Church, the Fountain of Youth and the Changing Face of America

Legend has it that on the morning of April 2, 1513 when Ponce De Leon discovered the place we now call Florida; he also began a search for the fountain of youth. Ironically, today Florida has the largest percentage of people over the age of 65 in the nation. In fact close to 30 percent of Florida’s population is over the age of 55 and approximately 18 percent is age 65 or older. Though Florida leads the way, the rest of us are also heading in the same direction. The US Department of Health and Human Services estimates that by the year 2030 19% of our entire nation will be ages 65 or older.1

Since Ponce de Leon never discovered his fountain, what we can know is that if we in the church are truly committed to reaching this changing face of America then we need to prepare. We must learn to listen to the voices of people approaching their final laps of the long distance race called life. Both due to increased acceptance of institutionalization and the greater sophistication of our health care system more people than ever permanently enter new communities which we generally call “nursing homes”.

This reality for some means increased isolation, a feeling of vulnerability and a sense of rejection. The friend that lived across the street may not be able to visit. The mailman they have smiled at every day for years doesn’t come by. The loss of privacy begins with most people having to share a room with a stranger.  Often the new reality is that family members that once checked daily on their loved ones feel that someone else is doing that job better, so they may come by only rarely to visit. Faced with this disquieting truth, we could just wish for the “good old days”. We could talk about how it would be nice if families watched out for grandma and grandpa or auntie, like they once did. There is an old saying, “If wishes were horses, beggars would ride.”  In our generation we as God’s church have a choice to make. We can simply wish things were different, or we can rise to the challenge and express the unchanging love of Christ in an ever changing world.

Excerpt from Introduction         “Would You Do It For One”


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