Supporting seniors

Churches for senior ministry

Sentinel photo by BRADLEY KREITZER
Church representatives, from left, Clay MacTarnaghan, pastor Blairs Mills Brethren in Christ Church, Bob Landis, River Church, Chris Mathiason, St. Stephen’s Evangelical Luthern Church, Gary Krabill, senior adult chaplin, Raina Hepner, Cedar Grove Brethren in Christ Church, Graham Fowler, pastor Lost Creek Presbyterian Church and McCoysville Presbyterian Church, and Marc Sperich, associate pastor Good News Luthern Brethren Church.

MIFFLINTOWN — Pastor Gary Krabill is on a mission.

He wants to unite the more than 60 churches in Juniata County for a common goal — to reach unchurched seniors.

Krabill has formed a board made up of local pastors and community members to organize the Juniata County Golden Years Ministry.

Krabill, who also serves as the chaplain for the Mifflin County Correctional Facility, said he saw a need for spiritual guidance for the senior population.

“I came to realize that there are a lot of senior adults who don’t have any church connections for end of life issues or spiritual guidance,” he said. “I think it’s kind of inadvertently because our culture doesn’t like to talk about getting old or death, so we avoid it. I think that segment of society has been overlooked.”

He is working to gain support as a missionary from churches in Juniata County. “My goal is to get (seniors) connected into a church family for support and spiritual guidance.”

Krabill said he would like to see churches of all denominations in Juniata County come together to support seniors.

“It’s one thing we all agree on — the senior adults who are unchurch need to have spiritual guidance.”

Krabill hopes each church will appoint a representative to be involved.

“Wouldn’t it be great if churches could work together supporting this idea across denominational lines?”

Eventually, he would like to see the ministry spread to Mifflin County and eventually maybe event across the Commonwealth.

A senior ministry would be a new concept, he said, adding that pastors will often visit nursing facilities, but attention is not often given to seniors receiving in-home care.

“I’ve never heard of a community chaplain to the senior adults,” Krabill said, “There have been chaplains to a facility, but never to a whole community.”

Krabill said a senior ministry will be possible through networking among churches, neighbors and friends.

“The more people we know, the more networking we do, I think the more we can spread the love of Jesus through that segment of our community that has been neglected and overlooked.”

Krabill, who served as a chaplain at a local nursing home until the position was eliminated last fall, said he worked with people who had no church support systems to help handle end of life issues.

“I’ve continued to go because some (seniors) don’t have spiritual connections,” he said. “I think, how lonely it must be to go through that. People don’t realize the support that the church offers in times like that.”

going through River Church (find address–

there may be businesses or individuals who would like to be part of it

they’re working on raising financial support and networking