Four North Alabama Conference congregations were among the 31 churches around the world who were awarded grants by the United Methodist Committee on Older Adult Ministries (OAM) to support Aging in Poverty ministry programs.
The Aging in Poverty grants seek to address a core issue in the mission of The United Methodist Church concerning worldwide poverty, said William Randolph, director of the Office on Aging and Older Adult Ministries at Discipleship Ministries.
“Our focus was to be in partnership with churches in developing creative programs to not only address the issue of poverty short term through direct aid, but to address the root causes of poverty, particularly hidden poverty,” Randolph said.
All of the grant recipients have a component in their plans to address long-term poverty through education and to comprehensively address “not only financial poverty, but also spiritual and cultural poverty,” Randolph said. Programs receiving the grants focused not just on ministry to older adults living in poverty, but also with older adult volunteers performing the ministry.
The Committee on Older Adult Ministries selected grant applications it felt could easily be adapted or duplicated by other churches. “We wanted programs that could be ‘pioneer programs’ and blaze a trail other churches could follow,” Randolph said.
The North Alabama Conference congregations receiving grants were Forest Lake UMC in Tuscaloosa, Goodsell UMC in Lanett, New Beginnings UMC in Birmingham, and Propst Memorial UMC in Millport.
Goodsell UMC will use the $1,000 grant to support its active Young at Heart Ministry. This group gives school supplies to W.O. Lance Elementary School, provides supplies and holiday baskets to area nursing homes and community sick and shut ins, conducts food drives for a local food bank, hosts community Thanksgiving Dinners, and various other outreach projects. “We are thankful for the generous GBOD grant,” said Rev. Randy Kelley. “It will enable us to do much more to serve our community.”
New Beginnings UMC in Birmingham plans to expand the Golden Agers Ministry, a senior adult ministry in the church, with the $1,000 grant. Initially designed for those aged sixty and older, the group quickly decided to include the 55-59 age group. The primary purpose of the ministry is to meet the spiritual, physical and social needs of senior adults within the church and the North Birmingham community. Fellowship luncheons, movies, educational seminars and other outings are planned quarterly. The goal is to expand from quarterly to monthly activities, then to three times a week. “I am excited about this ministry and the age group that it spans,” said Loretta Jones, Mission Team chair. “We have an opportunity not only to enhance individual lives, but to enhance the life of the community as a whole through the Golden Agers’ collective knowledge and wisdom.”