By Rev. Dr. Richard Gentzler, Jr.

During May, United Methodist congregations are invited to observe Older Adult Recognition Day. The reason it’s held in May is because that’s the month our nation observes Older Americans Month (OAM).

Established in 1963, OAM is led by a federal agency – the Administration for Community Living ( – and is a time to recognize older Americans’ contributions, highlight aging trends, and reaffirm commitments to serving older adults in our communities.

This year’s theme, Powered by Connection, focuses on the profound impact meaningful connections have on older adults’ well-being and health.

Meaningful connections aren’t just about having someone to talk with. It’s about the transformative potential that congregations, engaged in intentional ministry by, with, and for older adults, can have on enhancing the mental, physical, spiritual, and emotional well-being of older adults. Congregations that recognize and nurture connectedness can help mitigate issues like loneliness and isolation — ultimately promote healthy aging for all older adults.

Aging today isn’t what we thought of 60 – or even 30 – years ago. While aging is changing, the way we think and talk about aging hasn’t changed.

Ageism and dated expectations about aging can negatively impact older adults.  Aging stereotypes can restrict the ministry, enrichment, and social engagement opportunities for older adults, stifling their potential contributions and fostering loneliness and isolation.

Outdated beliefs about aging can also lead older adults to embrace self-limiting attitudes of engagement, hindering their fulfillment and community participation. These consequences lead to poorer overall health and wellness.

Church leaders play a vital role in providing opportunities for older adults to stay connected to their church and community. Leaders can spread the word about the mental, physical, spiritual, and emotional health benefits of social connection. They can also help older adults stay connected and engaged in the congregation and community by encouraging them to give back through volunteering, serving, teaching, or mentoring.

ENCORE Ministry Foundation believes in the full potential of older adults and older adult ministry and has put together a free resource for church leaders wanting to celebrate older adult recognition day. To download a copy of Resources for Celebrating Older Adult Recognition Day in May 2024, click here.

Dr. Richard Gentzler, director of Older Adult Ministry, oversees ENCORE Ministry’s mission of providing older adult ministry resources, leader training, and consultations. For more information, email Gentzler at or call 615-400-0539.