Covenant Minister Organizes International Aging Conference

LOS ANGELES, CA (July 29, 2015) — In a society that defines us by what we do and how productive we are, defining meaning and purpose in older age is more challenging—but definitely possible, said Covenant minister Nancy Gordon, who is organizing the Sixth International Conference on Ageing and Spirituality in October.

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The theme for the conference is “Paradox and Promise in the Pilgrimage of Aging.”

“Spirituality is concerned with how persons experience meaning and purpose in life,” says Gordon, who has served as the director for the California Lutheran Home for Spirituality and Aging since 2009. Older adults often must find that meaning with fewer connections and in a society that values people based on what they are able to do.

nancyheadshotThat discovery requires a special kind of journey—a pilgrimage. “We will all take this journey as we age, but some will be more intentional in seeing and recognizing this aging process as essentially spiritual,” Gordon says.

She adds, “Pilgrims experience moments of joy and inspiration and holiness; they also experience fatigue, getting lost, and difficulty navigating the terrain of the journey. The journey holds promise, not just for ourselves, but for those whose lives are connected to ours.”

Pilgrimage is paradoxical. “The difficulties of it can lead us into the greatest joys,” Gordon says.

The conference previously has been held in Australia, New Zealand, Great Britain, and Scotland. (The title of the conference uses the spelling “Ageing” rather than “Aging” to reflect international usage.)

The event will be held October 4-7 in downtown Los Angeles at the California Endowment Center for Healthy Communities.

The conference brings together participants from many disciplines, including theologians, representatives of different faith communities, and providers of services to the aging. Lay people who are interested in working with older adult ministry also are encouraged to attend, said Gordon.

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Stan Friedman is the news and online editor for the Covenant Companion and is grateful for the opportunity to serve in a job that combines his newspaper and pastoral ministry experience. He has been to 15 Bruce Springsteen concerts in four cities and listened to “Thunder Road” an average of at least once a day for 41 years.

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