An evaluation of the ministry of the Anglican Church in Pietermaritzburg to the Aged especially in their loneliness.
Aging is one of the normal processes in the life-cycle of a human being. It is synonymous with being alive. Yet old age for most people causes more fear than death. The greatest challenge of aging is not the threat of times on our hands, poverty or ill-health.Rather it is facing the fear of loneliness. In a sense, loneliness is a functional crisis . The aged feel that they no longer have a function in the family and in society. Within the city of Pietermaritzburg there are fifteen Retirement/Old Age Homes. In a climate of escalating crime and violence in South Africa, more and more old people for security reasons are giving up their homes and moving into these institutions. The shortage of jobs, affirmative action, the devaluing of the Rand and the high crime rate have caused many younger families to emigrate, leaving their parents and grandparents in these institutions. The shortage of nursing staff, social workers and care-givers leads to the aged spending their days and nights in their little rooms alone with no one to share in their dreams and memories. There is a need to rediscover our unique vocation as Christians within the context of an aging church whose membership is increasingly becoming older. From my experience in the Anglican church, priority seems to be given to the ministry of youth whilst the aged are marginalised. It seems that the only time the aged are visited individually is at the time of their approaching death when they are administered the Sacrament of the Last Rites. In this International Year of the Older Persons the Anglican church is challenged to re-examine and evaluate its ministry to the aged.