Aging, Longevity, and Spirituality

By Joseph Plummer 

Is it possible that aging, longevity, and spirituality can be interconnected or even interdependent? Can a healthy and long life be enhanced by spiritual experience? For answers we need a closer look at spiritual practice and its impact on health and wellbeing, especially in later years. 

The Reverend Jurgen Ahlers, Sunday’s guest minister, will explore this critical factor for healthiness during a long life. An ordained Presbyterian minister, Rev. Ahlers will draw upon his unique perspective as the former chairperson of the White House Conference on Aging (WHCoA) during the 1970s. He fulfilled that public service under the banner “Spiritual Wellbeing Among Elders” and has continued to carry it forward ever since.

Rev. Ahlers’s career indeed appears to be one of exploring the secret of long life. In 1974, he guided adult educational strategies for the general executive board of the Presbyterian Church in the U.S., a Presbyterian denomination located primarily in the southern United States. At the time, his denomination was responding to the White House’s 1971 appeal to the broad spectrum of US faith communities (Protestant, Roman Catholic, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, and others) to develop a “working definition” of spiritual wellbeing for elders. 

Working with the National Coalition on Aging (NICA), Rev. Ahlers authored the statement that inspired the White House Conference when it assembled in 1976. “Spiritual well-being is the affirmation of life in relationship with God, self, community, and environment, and which nurtures and celebrates wholeness.” As he will affirm in his Sunday talk, this definition remains as relevant today to healthy longevity as it was nearly a half century ago. 

A life-long teacher working in Germany and the United States, Rev. Ahlers taught at the University of Hamburg, Florida State University, and Auburn University. Later, he worked as Corporate Director of Professional Development for the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company and then as a consultant to Kempinski Hotels International, Crystal Cruises, BMW of North America, the Coca-Cola Company, and other international firms, forging more dynamic, employee-engaged corporate cultures.

Unitarian Universalism is a liberal religion. Our Fellowship welcomes people of all ages, races, religions, sexual orientation, and gender identity. You can see what we are like and enjoy previous services at Enter UUFSMA in the search box.  UUFSMA donates generously to support nonprofit organizations that provide health, educational, and environmental services for underserved communities in the San Miguel region. Please support this work by clicking on the website home page Donate button. 

To participate in our online Sunday Service, visit and click on the Zoom Service button on the home page. If requested, enter password: 294513. Sign-in from anywhere Sunday mornings between 10:15-10:25 am CST. 

In addition to continuing live Zoom services, UUFSMA has returned to limited in-person Sunday services. Reservations are no longer necessary. Space permitting, guests who show their vaccination card can join the in-person service (and be approved for future attendance).

*Joseph Plummer is the UUFSMA Board Secretary.

Unitarian Universalist Fellowship Sunday Service

“Aging, Longevity, and Spirituality”

Guest Minister: Reverend Jurgen Ahlers

Sun, Aug 7, 10:30 am

Zoom link:  

Password: 294513