The National Forum on Spirituality and Aging

CapturesageWelcome to the National Forum on Spirituality and Aging (NAFOSA).

We encourage you to:

  • think out loud about aging churches and our aging society
  • talk about what’s working and not working in ministry to, with, by, and for people in the second half of life
  • share resources and perhaps to create new resources.

PLEASE JOIN OUR FORUM DISCUSSION or search out content by using the categories listed in the menu to the right of this page)

To contact us, please email our chairperson: Rev Brian McCaffery at …or post a note on Brian’s LinkedIn blog,

This website is currently under construction.  Please check back soon for additional features.

Thank you.


Posted in A Sense of Meaning, Baby Boomers, Brain Health, Care for the Caregiver, Creativity, Developing OAM programs, Eliminate abuse, Forgiveness, Grief and Loss, Healing and Hospitalizations, Inter-generational, Manage stress, Sage-ing, Spiritual Growth in Later Life, Spirituality, Uncategorized, Upcoming Events | 1 Comment


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I have just finished reading the 2016 edition of the POAMN Planning Guide ( and I want to lift it up as one of the most comprehensive introductions to the many facets to be addressed when developing your plan.  I can’t think of a better document to share with those in your congregational leadership to explain why Second Half of Life Ministry matters.  Kudos to POAMN for this fine document.

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A Definition Of Spritualtiy

Nancy Gordon is the Director of California Lutheran Homes Center for Spirituality and Aging. She is also a member of NAFOSA. I’m sharing with you an article from her website because I think it is valuable in understanding NAFOSA’s perspective on our work. (THANK YOU NANCY)
Welcome to California Lutheran Homes Center for Spirituality and Aging. Now in its second decade, the Center offers programs and resources for aging services professionals and faith communities. The Center’s tag-line, “Aging is a spiritual journey,” reflects our core belief that spirituality is the essential piece of every person’s aging process. We seek to assist those who support older adults as they navigate the terrain of aging.

What do we mean by spirituality? Spirituality can include religious faith and practices, but can also be experienced and understood in non-religious ways. A definition that I like is: Spirituality is the aspect of humanity that refers to the way individuals seek and express meaning and purpose and the way they experience their connectedness to the moment, to self, to others, to nature and to the significant or sacred (emphasis mine).*

I like this definition because it speaks to two essential processes of the spiritual journey of aging—continuing to find meaning and purpose in living and staying connected and engaged with oneself, others, and the larger world. This definition also lends itself to some basic questions we can seek to answer with the older adults we serve: Can they articulate what brings them meaning and purpose? If they can, how can we support those activities or beliefs? If they can’t, are there experiences or relationships that we could invite them to that would help them find an answer to that question? And are there ways in the programs that we develop and the services we offer to help elders continue to build new and meaningful connections with others, themselves and the wider world?

When we view our services to older adults through the lenses of “meaning and purpose” and “connectedness” we can bring the spiritual journey of aging into everything we do. This definition also helps us to take spirituality out of the realm of the ambiguous and amorphous into the realm of practical practices and programs. And because I believe that all of us who work with older adults need to be attending to our own spiritual journey of aging, it also provides us with some questions for self-reflection. What is bringing meaning and purpose to my life? And how am I connecting to the moment, to self, to others, to nature and to the significant or sacred? As we wrestle with these questions for ourselves and with those we serve, we will find all sorts of creative ways to support the spiritual journey of aging. Nancy Gordon, Director * (Definition from Consensus Conference: Improving the Quality of Spiritual Care as a Dimension of Palliative Care, held Feb. 17-18, 2009, Pasadena, CA. Sponsored by the Archstone Foundation.) – See more at:

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Collaborators Sought for Forgiveness Guide

Dangerous Medicine – an inter-generational novel about love, religion, forgiveness and terrorism – will be published in the fall of 2016.  It will be accompanied by a discussion guide for use in book clubs and faith-based education programs, tentatively titled: Finding More Love: Forgiveness and Other Dangerous Medicines.

If you would like to help shape the final edit of this novel, and collaborate on the discussion questions, learning exercises, essays, personal stories and recommended resources  that will be included in the discussion guide, please visit

You will receive the novel and a draft of the discussion guide in four free installments beginning on May 15th, with additional information about the collaboration.

Some of the characters in Dangerous Medicine succeed in using one or more of the Satisfaction Skills (awareness, affirmations, assertiveness, acceptance) to forgive themselves, others and God. Other characters reject them.  However, in the discussion guide, I’d like to present a broad range of forgiveness strategies – both published programs and personal stories – so please contribute to what I hope will be a useful forgiveness guide, and also an ongoing online discussion and/or support group.

The questions raised by this story and the discussion guide include:

  • How do we – or should we – forgive ourselves, our parents, our children, terrorists and God?
  • What should we prioritize in the final chapter of our lives?
  • How can we care for the caregivers?
  • Is religion a “dangerous medicine?” Can too little of it be harmful?  Can too much of it kill?
  • Can forgiveness be dangerous?  Can too little of it be harmful?  Can too much, or the wrong kind of forgiveness, create more problems?
  • Should forgiveness be applied to both personal and political problems, such as dealing with terrorism?
  • What is the role of forgiveness and compassion in addressing social and religious issues such as sexual orientation and same-sex marriage?
  • Should  “compassion education” be taught in schools and faith-based education programs?



Posted in A Sense of Meaning, Baby Boomers, Care for the Caregiver, Forgiveness, Grief and Loss, Inter-generational, Sage-ing, Spiritual Growth in Later Life, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Input Sought for International Conference on Spirituality and Aging

Lydia Manning and John Holton,  co-chairs of the 7th International Conference on Spirituality and Aging, are seeking input for their conference advisory committee.  The meeting  will be held from June 4-7, 2017, at Concordia University in Chicago.

If you have questions or suggestions, please contact Lydia ( or John Holton ( annaul conferencelogo

To view the presentations and poster sessions from the 6th International Conference, please click here.

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ARMSS/POAMN Conference in Richmond – Oct. 11-14

The 2016 JOINT ARMSS/POAMN CONFERENCE “Christian Discipleship: People of the Spirit, People of Hope”  will be held from October 11-14 in Richmond, VA POAMNS

Please visit their website for more information and a conference brochure.

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The Mature Mind – Kairos Alive!

Dr. Gene Cohen, a former Director of the National Institute of Health, was the author of The Mature Mind and The Creative Age said that we had become so focused upon the losses of aging that we had never studied the gains of a mature mind. Throughout life we are growing in our creativity. As people of faith we often become dependent upon our rational brain rather than striving for a balance with our relational heart. In striving to help the Church rethink it’s approach to Second Half of Life Ministry I’ve chosen as my first blog to lift up a picture and mission of a secular organization “Kairos Alive” to help us think outside of our traditional box.

Kairos Alive! transforms lives through dance and story, and raises awareness of the importance of creative involvement across the lifespan for verifiable health benefits. We use the power of participatory, creative dance theater to make connections, stir the imagination, and create resilience in intergenerational communities. Our Choreography of Care™ programs promote personal and community wellbeing through our Intergenerational Dance Hall™ public participation events, our Dancing Heart™ weekly programming, our Community Arts and Wellbeing™ Residencies, and other programs.


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Please click above to view this report that presents information on how the age structure of the overall population and the composition of the older population in terms of age, sex, race, and Hispanic origin are expected to change over the next four decades

Posted on by Brian McCaffrey | Leave a comment