“What’s wrong with this picture?” Sometimes reframing something can help us to really see what is before us. That was the purpose behind a seminar held at Willoughby Christian Reformed Church in Langley, B.C. Entitled “Reframing Retirement,” the daylong workshop invited participants to consider and to rethink the way one lives into retirement. In fact, it might include tossing out the word “retirement” to describe the transition time that follows the years of regular employment, often dictated by age and pension maturity.
The day was sponsored by the regional group of Christian Reformed churches, Classis British Columbia South-East, and targeted for people aged 55 to 65. About 50 participants took in the sessions, envisioned by Fleetwood, Ladner, and Willoughby CRCs—British Columbia congregations included in a cohort organized by Faith Formation Ministries (FFM). Statistically 1,400 people are turning 65 years of age in Canada every day. This age group is becoming the fastest-growing demographic in many of our churches as well.
Carson Pue, a leadership mentor and advisor to the president of Trinity Western University, and Paul Pearce, director of the Centre for Healthy Aging Transitions, facilitated sessions, focused on facing the new realities of life after 30 to 40 years of work experiences. They asked: How might those years be shaped not only by individual situations but by the needs and relationships lived in community, within church and beyond? How might we foster conversations that encourage foundational ideals for healthy aging, spiritual formation, and maturation all the while continuing to contribute to the community in life-giving ways?
The day, held March 10, was a response to churches within the region requesting guidance in how to meet the pastoral needs of this growing older demographic. Martin Contant, an FFM team member, observed that “there can be a huge loss of gained knowledge and experience [if retired people disengage]. FFM is working hard to offer a wide range of workshop opportunities, both intergenerational and [for specific] generations.” This particular Saturday gave participants an opportunity to look at the picture currently called “retirement” and reimagine its frame together.
The FFM team is currently working with a number of congregations dealing with two demographics that wonder how they fit in the church. Young adults are asking questions about vocation, purpose, security, and meaning in life, and many people approaching retirement are asking similar questions. Double blessings and double challenges for congregations.