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Conference Table focuses on role of adults 50 and older

Conference Table focuses on role of adults 50 and older

e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service

Conference Table focuses on role of adults 50 and older

Oct. 5, 2007  News media contact: Tita Parham*
800-282-8011  Orlando {0748}

An e-Review Feature
By Erik J. Alsgaard**

LAKELAND — The average age of a United Methodist worshiper is 57. The average age of a United Methodist clergyperson has increased from 45.8 in 1982 to 51.4 in 2005.

That’s according to a United Methodist News Service article Oct. 3 titled “Report: Changing demographics will affect church funding.” 

During the Beyond 50 Ministries presentation June 7 at the 2007 Florida Annual Conference Event, members from each generation shared the characteristics unique to their generation. The goal was to create greater awareness and insight into those differences and the need for each generation to be involved in the life of the church. Photo by Caryl Kelley. File photo #07-0591. Originally accompanied e-Review Florida UMNS #0685/June 9, 2007.

Clearly, people over the age of 50 are offering strong leadership in the church. But they could be doing more, according to Nancy Metz, chairwoman of the Florida Conference’s Beyond 50 Ministries task team.

“Congregations need to see with new eyes the wealth of knowledge, life experience and vision that lies in its adults beyond 50,” she said, “and be creative in utilizing that wealth in carrying out our commission to make disciples for Jesus Christ.”

Metz and her team will address that issue at the next Conference Table, titled “Beyond 50: Living It Well!” It will be the 18th Conference Table and the first exploring ministry with and for people older than 50.

The Conference Table concept was established by a resolution at the 2002 Florida Annual Conference Event. It was the first sanctioned forum of the conference in which leaders of the various conference agencies deliberated, discerned God’s will and developed thoughtful, broadly considered recommendations for strategic actions. 
The first Conference Table was held in August of that same year, and since then Bishop Timothy W. Whitaker has convened a total of 17 Conference Tables. 

The “Beyond 50” Conference Table is Dec. 1, 10:30 a.m., at St. Mark’s United Methodist Church in Ocala. Those who are not able to travel to the location may participate by connecting to a live webcast of the gathering as it is taking place. Participants must use a computer with a high-speed internet connection, and they may access the webcast at

The gathering will begin with worship, followed by three workshops: “Living Longer: Issues and Impact,” “Are We Retiring in the Red?” and “The Endless Spiritual Journey.”

“By 2030, adults 65 and older will outnumber our children and youth,” Metz said. “Dialogue, consciousness-raising and proactive involvement in solutions will position us for effective ministry to the largest segment of our population and congregations.”

The purpose of the Conference Table, said Metz, is to raise awareness of some key issues, motivate participants to action and provide resources for local churches to address the issues.

“The audience for this Conference Table is potentially the entire church,” Metz said. “One day, we all hope to be among those beyond 50, and the path we forge now will make the journey easier for those who follow.”

The Beyond 50 task team has created a variety of resources for local churches and individuals to learn more about this area of ministry. One of the most popular is an online quiz people may take to see if they are ageists. It’s found on the task team’s Web site at Worship resources and links to additional information are also available.

“The issues to be discussed during this Conference Table are just the tip of the iceberg,” Metz said. “There are many other issues that need to be considered. It is our hope that this is just the opening dialogue and that the Beyond 50 Ministries team will be utilized as a resource for congregations throughout the Florida Conference.”

Lunch will be provided for $7 per person. Those planning to attend the Conference Table may register by visiting Information about the webcast is also available at that site.


This article relates to Older Adult Ministries/Conference Table.

*Parham is managing editor of e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service.
**Alsgaard is director of communications for the Florida Conference.