ERIC Number: ED329874
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1990-Nov
Reference Count: 0
The Sunday School Class: The Meaning of Older Women's Participation in Church.
Stuckey, Jon C.
This study examined the role of the church in providing elderly women with a structure within which to maintain social contact and spiritual support into old age. Twenty-one middle-class, older white women, all of whom lived in the same small Ohio town, attended the same Methodist church, and belonged to the same Sunday school class, were interviewed (n=21). Three themes emerged from the interviews: (1) the class members were very close to one another; (2) the impact of widowhood upon church participation varied; and (3) age-strata emerged in the church despite the ready availability of intergenerational contact. The church had provided subjects with a source of social support throughout their lives, but its degree of importance varied across time, with the pattern of church participation among the subjects following a curvilinear trend. While the church may hold different meanings to each of these women, all them found it important to attend regularly and to continue their participation. Although the findings of this study are not generalizable to society as a whole, they do suggest that churches may have the potential to meet some of the social support needs of their congregations, especially the widowed, never married, and childless. (BHK)
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Scientific Meeting of the Gerontological Society (43rd, Boston, MA, November 16-20, 1990).