D.R.KOEPKE, Editor, Ministering to Older Adults. Binghamton, New York: Haworth Pastoral Press (Co-published by the Journal of Religion, Spirituality & Aging, Volume 17, Numbers 3/4 2005). pp.180. $22.95 pb. ISBN-13: 978-0-7890-3049-8.
Reviewed by Jean DONOVAN, Duquesne University, Pittsburgh, PA 15282

Donald Koepke is the Director of the California Lutheran Homes Center for Spirituality and Aging. His extensive theological and pastoral training is evident in the construction of this handbook on the spiritual care and ministry with and by older adults. He has drawn on the expertise of colleagues to put forth a systematic and pastorally sensitive plan for both assessing and then responding to the needs of a growing population within the Christian community. “Older adult ministry in the church ultimately seeks to be attentive to, tend to, cultivate, encourage, and deepen a person’s spiritual life,” Koepke states. In practical steps, Koepke and his colleagues lay the groundwork for building spiritually-based Adult Ministry Programs. In Part One, The Fundamentals, the chapters explore the significance of the fact that there are 35 million Americans over the age of 65 today, (there were 3 million in 1900), suggesting new directions to respond to this social reality. In Part Two, Programming Based on Spiritual Needs, a step by step process is suggested for building an inclusive community. Pointing to Enabling the Elderly: Religious Institutions within the Community Service System, by Sheldon Tobin and others, Koepke notes the five levels of interaction needed in programming: communication, cooperation, coordination, collaboration, and confederation. Food for thought on the question of the spiritual needs of physically ill elders can be found in Koepke’s summary of a list of twenty five needs, related to self, God and others, by H.G. Koenig and G. Lewis’ work, The Healing Connection, 2004. Useful appendices and suggestions for further reading make this text an important reference tool for any Christian community engaged in this ministry.


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