Monday, September 18, 2006

Faith and Aging

This week's Christian Century has an article about Faith and Aging, in which one study is quoted saying that, contrary to popular stereotype, persons tend to become less dogmatic as they age and express less interest in the specific theologies of the faiths of their younger years. They still believe in some kind of higher power, and they still experience having a spiritual life, but they tend to move away from organized religion, especially if they have sufficient social support in family and friends. (The "fortunate old").

They also become Unitarian Universalists.

I've long noted the unusual number of people who join us after retirement, often after a life in another church, or as a firm secularist. I had always assumed that this change was due to paying attention to their spiritual lives with their extra leisure time, and checked this out with a small group of interfaith colleagues, once. They were baffled. It's not common, in their experience, for people to join a Lutheran or Methodist church for the first time as 70 year olds. Their "new" older members are people who have newly moved to the city and were members of a similar church in their former city. But we get new, older members who are new to Unitarian Universalism all the time.'s a new market, and new demographic whom we might serve; those who, as they age become less dogmatic, less interested in articles of faith, but who still have a spiritual life that they can tend, expand, and share, but who no longer feel at home with the creeds and dogmas of their earlier years and therefore, now leave congregations entirely. How many, I wonder, will never find us?

1 comment:

Berrysmom said...

Christine, I would like to share this observation with my Membership Committee. Do you have any objections?
P.S. I can't say that this is remarkably true for my congregation; we do have older folks join, but we also have a lot of people of all ages. Nevertheless, in a state like Pennsylvania with a very high population of retirees, it's worth consideration.