Home Empowering the Vulnerable - Issue #125

Empowering the Vulnerable - Issue #125

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Disciple forming congregations cultivate intentional and mutual relationships with the most vulnerable. Each year thousands of older adults are victims of scams, fraud, abuse, and identity theft. Older adults are often persuaded to provide personal information, including Medicare numbers, to callers who offer something they might need, such as transportation to kidney dialysis appointments, scooters, or diabetic supplies. Home improvement scams usually involve perpetrators going door to door and offering home repairs. They ask for money up front and disappear without doing any work, or they collect money for work they claim was done but in reality was not done.

Victims may be men or women, but the most common victim is a woman between 70 and 89 years of age who is frail and has some cognitive impairment. She may be lonely, isolated, and trusting of those who take an interest in her.

First United Methodist Church in Corpus Christi, Texas has partnered with the city’s RSVP program and the Texas Senior Medicare Patrol to help educate older adults in the church and community about numerous forms of fraud, scams, and abuse. Helping older adults to understand various scams is the first step in preventing abuse and exploitation.

The church sponsors a free, one-day seminar that includes lunch and is open to the community. It helps to educate older adults, their families, and caregivers about

  • why older adults are tempting targets
  • how not to become targets of crime, fraud, scams, abuse and theft
  • how to protect yourself and your property
  • how to protect your Medicare benefits

Some Questions for Discussion

  • Who are the vulnerable in your church and community? How is the congregation seeking to form mutual relationships with these people?

  • How might your congregation provide leadership in the community to help prevent elder abuse? With whom might you partner?

  • What are the unmet needs of older adults in your congregation that put them at risk of exploitation?

Richard Gentzler, Jr. is Director of Older Adult Ministries at the Discipleship Ministries. He can be reached at [email protected].


In 2007 church leaders throughout The United Methodist Church in the U.S. were invited to identify churches that demonstrated the vision of discipleship described in the twelfth chapter of Romans. Over 200 churches were surveyed or visited. Issue #125. © 2012 Discipleship Ministries. All rights reserved. Permission is granted to copy this page for use in United Methodist congregations.