Grants to help local congregations deal with issues surrounding "old age poverty" -- one of three focus areas concerning older adults for the current quadrennium -- will be offered beginning next year through the Committee on Older Adult Ministries (COAM), which is administratively related to The General Board of Discipleship (GBOD).
The grants will be available to local churches that identify ways to be in ministry to older adults, who face poverty issues, including financial exploitation, said the Rev. Richard Gentzler, director of the Center on Aging and Older Adult Ministries at GBOD.
"Poverty is a constant issue with elderly people," said Gentzler, who will retire on July 1 after 22 years at GBOD, including 13 years as the center's director. "Nearly six million, or 15 percent, of Americans age 65 and older were living in poverty or near poverty during 2010, and that number is expected to increase 33 percent by 2020."
In addition to old age poverty, the Comprehensive Plan for Older Adult Ministries calls for leadership training and resourcing during this quadrennium in two other vital areas:
The "new seniors" - How to minister to Baby Boomers, who are now joining the ranks of older adulthood. By 2016, leading edge Boomers will begin turning 70 years of age.
Intergenerational ministry - Blurring the lines of separation among generations and encouraging learning, growing and sharing among young people and older adults.
Besides approving the old age poverty grants, COAM elected Marvin W. Cropsey as the committee chair. Cropsey said that more details about the grant-making process will be forthcoming.
Barbara Bruce, a lay person representing the Northeastern Jurisdiction, was elected vice chair, and the Rev. Gordon Cheney Johnson, a deacon representing the South Central Jurisdiction, was elected recording secretary.
GBOD's mission is to support annual conference and local church leaders for their task of equipping world-changing disciples. An agency of The United Methodist Church, GBOD is located at 1908 Grand Ave. in Nashville, Tenn. Visit www.gbod.org for more information or call the Communications Office at 877-899-2780, Ext. 1726.