Two Meetings, Two Observations
In the fall I met with members of Greenwood Forest Baptist Church in Cary, N.C., to consider the possibility of redeveloping the church's property for social impact.
And yesterday I met with the Bishops' Committee on Affordable Housing, related to the Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina. Members updated each other on their efforts to make their communities more livable for more people.
Here's what I noticed in these two meeting:
1. People of faith are ready to move beyond words to deeds. They are eager to make real their values of justice, equity and sustainability.
2. The participants are mostly older adults. That's not surprising, given the aging of religious institutions. But what is inspiring if not surprising is that these older adults are ready to create change. They are eager to pursue new models and pick up new tools to build more just, equitable and sustainable communities. They are ready for innovation and entrepreneurship.
If the perception is that religious people are clinging to old ways, and satisfied with words that justify their institutions but cost them little, these folks demonstrate readiness to let go and act in risky and sacrificial ways.
If the perception is that old people are culprits for a clinging and intransigence mistaken for faithfulness, these folks show another way. The psychologist Erik Erikson called it generativity, which is key to aging well. The Jewish and Christian traditions call it prophetic.
I want to spend more time with such leaders. I am eager to meet them and follow their energy into action.
Daniel Pryfogle is cofounder and CEO of Sympara. If you are interested in exploring the particular leadership task of older adults in this time, check out Sympara's initiative Aging for the Common Good.