Back to list of subjects


Pastoral and Theological Issues in Ageing

Elective Unit for postgraduates

This unit provides both a theoretical framework and the opportunity for theological reflection on pastoral care with people in the later stages of life.

Upon successful completion of this unit students will be able to:

  1. Describe and articulate a pastoral response to the philosophical and theological challenges of dementia (to personhood).
  2. Articulate (and develop a theological critique of) the meaning attached to growing old by contemporary society through culture, the arts, and the media.
  3. Draw upon Scripture and theology in order to offer a basis for developing a theology of ageing.
  4. Describe and reflect theologically on (and critically examine the socio-political implications of) the ways in which ageing, disabilities and chronic illness affect our understanding of wellbeing.
  5. Develop a theological rationale and pastoral response to the tension between charity and justice.
  6. Identify and integrate in pastoral practice the philosophical, theological and spiritual insights and ethical dimensions that emerge as care is offered to aged persons with mental health issues.

Class Time: Six days (36 hrs) of lectures and seminars facilitated by Chris Turner with medical, psychogeriatric, and pastoral practitioners.


BTheol:  45 points in Pastoral Studies and 30 points in Biblical Studies or Systematic Theology.
Postgraduate: 3 foundational units.


Level 3 (undergraduate)
One 2,500 word case study (50%) due on 23rd December
One 2,500 word research essay. (50%) due on 31 January

Level 3 (postgraduate)
One 3,000 word case study (50%) due on 23rd December
One 3,000 word research essay (50%) due on 31 January

Faculty: Chris Thurner, Elizabeth Mackinlay, Laurence McNamara CM and others

Offered: 2017 as an intensive in November (see timetable) at Stirling Theological College

General Bibliography:

Arbuckle, G.A. Healthcare Ministry: Refounding the Mission in Tumultuous Tmes. Collegeville: Liturgical Press. 2000
Hauerwas, S., Stoneking, C.B., Meador, K.G. & Cloutier, D. (Eds). Growing old in Christ. Grand Rapids, Mich.:W.B.Eerdmans, 2003.
Hudson, R., & O’Connor, M. Palliative care and aged care: A guide to practice. Melbourne: Ausmed Publications, 2007.
Jeffrey, P. Going against the stream. Ethical aspects of aging and care. Leominster: Gracewing, 2001.
Kimble, M.A., McFadden, J.W., Ellor, J.W. & Seeber, J.J. (Eds) Aging, spirituality and religion. Minneapolis: Fortress,1995.
MacKinlay, E. The spiritual dimension of ageing. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2001.
MacKinlay, E. Spiritual growth and care in the fourth age of life. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2006.
Maddox, G.L. (Ed) The encyclopedia of aging. 2 vols. New York: Springer, 2001.
McSherry, W. Making sense of spirituality in nursing and health care practice. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers,2006.
Paver, J. Theological reflection and education for ministry. Aldershot, England: Ashgate, 2006.
Whitehead, E.E, & Whitehead, J.D. Seasons of strength: New visions of adult Christian maturing.Winona: St Mary’s Press, 1995.Specialist bibliography:Cole, T.R., Kastenbaum, R., & May, R.E. Handbook of the humanities and aging. 2nd Ed. New York: Springer, 2000.
Borowski, A., Encel, S. & Ozanne, E. (Eds) Longevity and social change in Australia, Sydney, UNSW Press, 2007.
Kimble, M.A. & McFadden, J.W. (Eds) Aging, spirituality, and religion. A handbook. Vol. 2. Minneapolis: Fortress, 2003.
MacKinlay, E. (Ed) Ageing, disability and spirituality. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2008.
Minichiello, V. & Coulson, I. (Eds) Contemporary issues in gerontology: promoting positive ageing. Sydney: Allen & Unwin, 2005.
Moody, H.R. Aging, concepts and controversies. 2nd.Ed. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins U.P., 2000.
Post, S.G. The moral challenge of Alzheimer disease. 2nd. Ed. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins U.P., 2000.
Thane, P. (Ed) The long history of old age. London: Thames and Hudson, 2005.