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A welcome sight in your mailbox

To those churches accepting the Matthew 25 invitation, your welcome kit is on the way

by Mike Ferguson | Presbyterian News Service

Welcome kits on the way to churches and mid councils accepting the Matthew 25 invitation include hand fans, a window cling and prayer cards. (Photo by Rich Copley)

LOUISVILLE — The two dozen or so churches that have said yes to the Matthew 25 invitation during the month of April might consider keeping an eye on their mailbox.

Welcome kits are in the mail. Each kit holds a letter of thanks and certificate, Matthew 25 hand fans, posters, brochures, bulletin inserts, prayer cards and a window cling.

As well, within the presbyteries and synods in which the Rev. Dr. Diane Moffett, president and executive director of the Presbyterian Mission Agency, has presented the Matthew 25 invitation and its scriptural basis, churches and new worshiping communities will soon be receiving additional information.

Presbyteries that see 20 percent or more of their churches accept the invitation become Matthew 25 presbyteries; the same is true of synods where 20 percent or more of their presbyteries say yes.

“It’s a trickle up process,” explained Melody Smith, manager of Organizational Communications for the Presbyterian Mission Agency.

Using Jesus’ Judgment of the Nations story found in Matthew 25:31-46, the Matthew 25 invitation calls Presbyterians to actively engage in the world. Churches, new worshiping communities and mid councils accepting the invitation are invited to act boldly and compassionately to serve people who are hungry, oppressed, imprisoned or poor.

Debbie Gardiner arranges each welcome kit precisely. (Photo by Rich Copley)

On Thursday, Debbie Gardiner, assistant to the executive director and president, showed how welcome kits are assembled for mailing. Each piece is placed inside the folder just so for optimal viewing once the kit is opened.

The kits are just the first response to saying yes to the Matthew 25 invitation, Smith said. Churches who identify their work or their willingness to work on one or more of the three Matthew 25 areas of focus — building congregational vitality, dismantling structural racism or eradicating systemic poverty — are asked to use the Matthew 25 website (found here) to write, briefly, about the Matthew 25 ministry underway at their church.

The Presbyterian News Service will pick up some of those stories to do expanded reporting on a number of the denomination’s earliest Matthew 25 church adopters. On the website, churches and mid councils can write their stories of impact here.

“There are many resources on the website,” Smith said, “which is where we want people to go to.”

Each week, Debbie Gardiner will help ensure that a fresh batch of welcome kits is mailed to the most recent churches and mid councils to accept the Matthew 25 invitation. (Photo by Rich Copley)

The website for the Matthew 25 invitation includes opportunities for churches to build on ministry they’re already doing by working on dismantling aspects of a system that works, for example, to make it difficult to climb out of poverty. Example contributors are heavy debt loads, disenfranchisement through mass incarceration, acute inequality and environmental ills.

A map of current Matthew 25 congregations and mid councils shows concentrations in the upper Midwest and Northeastern states. Smith said that’s due in part to the fact that Moffett has already presented in those regions. The map show churches as far west as Southminster Presbyterian Church in Boise, Idaho, and as far south as Westminister Presbyterian Church in Corsicana, Texas.

Most of the churches and mid councils that have accepted the invitation say they’re working or intend to work in all three focus areas, Smith said. The number two response is from those that say they’re building or working to build congregational vitality.


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