A MINISTERIAL PERSPECTIVE
The preceding chapters have examined in-depth the relationship between religion, health, and aging. The purpose of this chapter is three- fold: first, to review the relationship between religion and aging; second, to examine a role of the minister to elders focusing on a hitherto underemphasized role; third, to review data from a survey on retired women religious.
The title was deliberately chosen to avoid even the appearance of a complete discussion of the many dimensions of ministry relating to religion and aging. The words "church" and "minister" will be used in their generic sense to include all denominations in the Judeo-Christian tradition.
The term ministry comes from the Latin word for service. Thus, minister is defined as servant--one who waits upon or ministers to the needs of another ( Knight, 1982). The term "ministry" will be applied to those who represent their church in some formal way and who act formally in the name of the church community ( Mahoney, 1987). A goal of ministry is,
to help . . . discover in a changing and absurd world a sense of meaning and purpose. The minister whether ordained, vowed, or lay, proclaims the kingdom of God through preaching, counseling, teaching, organizing, serving, and reconciling. . . . the minister consistently witnesses to the truth that human history and our individual histories are filled with meaning.
Thus, the minister's role in an age of introspection and narcissism, an age of isolation and alienation, is to offer deliverance from the estrangement of nar-