The Church’s Ministry with Dementia Online Teaching Series Returns for a Third Cohort!
By Scott Hughes
After two successful cohorts, Discipleship Ministries is thrilled to announce the third cohort for The Church’s Ministry with Dementia. This online teaching series is for church leaders looking to grow discipleship by engaging with families whose loved ones are living with dementia and other forms of care ministries.
What to Expect:
In this three-month online cohort, participants will read the book Ministry with the Forgotten: Dementia through a Spiritual Lens. (Be sure to take advantage of Cokesbury's discounted pricing and purchase your copy before you start the course. Click here to get your copy!)
Participants will have the opportunity to engage in reflective questions and journal their reflections about ministry with those who are living with dementia and the caregivers of those individuals.
Additionally, we’re excited that retired Bishop Ken Carder has agreed to participate in three live webinars to answer participants’ questions and offer reflections. Through this course, participants will also hear how other churches are wrestling with the opportunities and challenges of ministry with those living with dementia.
The list of ministry opportunities can seem overwhelming: There is worship on Sunday that requires a sermon, liturgy, and music; then there are administrative tasks and meetings; then there are children’s and youth ministries, community engagements, and a sermon to write. Parishioners stop by for counseling and consolation. And let’s not forget about hospital visits, small groups and Bible studies, another sermon to write, and then visiting the homebound. When we can’t seem to fit it all in, what gets dropped? It’s not likely to be the sermon or administrative tasks. In many churches, what gets dropped is visiting the homebound. Whose job is this anyway? Is it the pastor’s responsibility? Is it the congregation’s responsibility? Or does it belong to both?
In no way is this series meant to cause guilt or shame. Perhaps what is needed is a reframing of the care ministries—reframing it so that instead of its being on the periphery, it is seen as an integral part of the discipleship of the whole church.
Some of the main outcomes of this course include:
- A basic understanding of dementia and its prevalence.
- An ability to reflect on dementia as a theological challenge and opportunity.
- An understanding of the relationship between Incarnation and the ministry of presence.
- Sensitivity to seeing God incarnate in those with dementia.
- Insight and tools for entering the world of people with dementia.
- An understanding of Christian discipleship as being more than mere belief.
- Identification of contributions the church can make to people affected by dementia and gifts people with dementia can provide the church.
- Care for those who look after those living with dementia.
Here’s a short sampling of testimonials from participants who have completed this course:
“I have learned so much from this class! But I'm most grateful for the reminders to work ‘with’ not ‘for’ people. It's a lesson I've witnessed many times in varied settings, and I am so glad to be reminded that the same principle applies to those affected by dementia and Alzheimer’s. There are so many of us who want to help, but we need to be reminded that our desire to ‘do good’ must never come before our duty to ‘do no harm.’ Thank you for opening my eyes.” - Licensed local pastor in the Indiana Conference
“This has been a most enlightening study. I have become aware of so much more and feel the book has given me more direction as a pastor with whom I minister... I tell everyone to read this book, it is so helpful.” - Denise Bender, Deacon in the Mountain Sky Conference
“I am really glad to have all these resources available in one place. The thing that I am most glad to know is that there are places to which I can refer my congregants for their own learning and that we don't have to totally invent a ministry pattern…I will use many of these websites and books to build our program.” - Dorothy Countryman, local pastor in rural Southern Ohio
Scott Hughes is the Executive Director of Congregational Vitality & Intentional Discipleship, Elder in the North Georgia Conference, M.Div. Asbury Theological Seminary, D. Min. Southern Methodist University, co-host of the Small Groups in the Wesleyan Way podcast, creator of the Courageous Conversations project, and facilitator of the How to Start Small Groups teaching series.