Which is not to say that the Gerontocrats wouldn't welcome anyone as a new member. Actually, we couldn't even reject a decision to join if we wanted to. That's the practical result of our founder having had to put down this particular hobby and the MV having no way for an emporer to declare a successor.
Have you ever considered starting a new, temporary empire?
There's something that can be said for loyalty to an empire, but if you have no emperor, it makes it difficult to control certain aspects of the empire. You could always create a new MV empire, where all of the members of the Gerontocracy that are still committed to the game could join up to. You would have better control over many aspects that involve an empire, and it would give you a chance to "refresh" your members. Anyone who isn't here anymore obviously wouldn't follow you to the new empire, but those who still were into GC2 would join back up.
Also, this new empire could be permanent or temporary. If Ghostwes comes back, the members of the old Gerontocracy could always re-sign with the old empire. The temporary version would just fall back to 0 pts. From a different perspective, you could all choose to stick with the new empire if you guys enjoy it. This would by no means be permanent, but it would be a nice "refresher" for the older members of the empire.
You could always go the route of the Olympian God's empire - Silverbeacher cut everyone loose once the empire was about to fall from the MV, and they were free to join-up with whomever they pleased. You'd would have the empire, and if Ghostwes ever returned, you (or whoever was the emperor) could just cut the active members of the temporary empire free so that they could rejoin the Gerontocracy, if they so desired.
The Gerontocracy would lose a fair amount of points in the MV, but all of those points would return whenever the old members returned to the empire. So in hindsight, nothing bad would befall either the old empire or the new one.
Consider this my (long) way of providing a suggestion. I am by no means demanding that the Gerontocracy makes this change. I'm just stating a possible route that the loyal members could take.