Once a month St. Stephen’s hosts a ‘Friends of St. Stephen’s’ (FOSS) event, comprising of a service followed by lunch. It’s an event for over-55s to fellowship together, and for regular church members to bring their friends.
Second year student Sam preached at the service from Jesus’ story about the prayers of a Pharisee and a tax collector in Luke 15, delivering a challenge to consider where our trust lies: in ourselves and our works, or in the mercy of God. It’s a challenge we all need to keep hearing, young and old alike.
Over lunch our team learned a lot about Penrith history had a number of encouraging conversations with FOSS regulars about their desire to learn the Bible better and grow in faith. Pray that St. Stephen’s will be a place where over-55s will be able to continue to grow and flourish in serving the Lord Jesus.
At the FOSS lunch I had the privilege of sitting with Leonie. As well as being one of the St. Stephen’s churchwardens, Leonie is the Lay Pastoral Assistant. She is also involved with Next Phase Ministries, who are investigating strategies for caring for and reaching out to the over-60 demographic with the gospel.
Leonie told me that, while lunches like FOSS are attractive to over-70s, those now in their 60s are often still working part time and spending many hours volunteering or helping to look after their grandchildren. The middle of the day may not be the time for the ‘next phase’ ministries of the future.
Leonie is also passionate about helping churches do more than simply support the elderly to get to church on Sunday: she wants them to be free to serve. With Next Phase Ministries, she is seeking to find ways to invite and encourage those over 60 to be active members of their congregations. Pray for Leonie as she works with St. Stephen’s and Next Phase Ministries to encourage and grow over-60s in their love for and service to God and His people.