Make A Donation
Click Here >
Some Sundays, five or 10 people show up for worship at Yaphank Presbyterian Church on Long Island, N.Y. The church, established in 1851, has 41 members on its rolls. The average Sunday attendance is about 15.Yet the session of the historic church, whose sanctuary was destroyed by a December 2013 fire, has embraced the invitation to become a Matthew 25 church. Its chosen focus is eradicating systemic poverty.
At age 16, Kalief Browder found himself on New York’s Rikers Island, awaiting trial for a crime he says he didn’t commit. Returning from a party in the Bronx, Browder was accused of stealing a backpack holding a credit card, an iPod Touch, a camera and $700. At his arraignment, he was charged with second-degree robbery. Bail was set at $3,000. Browder didn’t have the ability to “bond out” — pay the fee. He would spend the next three years in jail before being released, with his charges dropped.
The Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis was delivering an impromptu sermon at the end of a long, hot day riding around Western Kentucky on a bumpy bus when she turned to the story of a leper who approached Jesus.“The leper said, ‘If you choose, you can heal me,’” Theoharis said. “’If you choose, you can heal me.’“Now that leper had gone a lot of places up to that point. He went to the HMOs of his day, and they turned him away. He went to the hospitals nearby, they had closed down. But Jesus traveled around the land opening up free healthcare clinics, never charged a co-pay. The leper said to Jesus, ‘If you choose, you can heal me.’“The question before us this afternoon is, ‘Do we choose?’”
Kirk in the Hills Presbyterian Church sits on a sprawling 41-acre lakeside campus in Bloomfield Hills, Mich., northwest of Detroit. Passersby often slow down to take in breathtaking views of the church’s majestic gothic-style architecture. Visitors from near and far come in to appreciate its beautiful sanctuary.
The 114th New Wilmington Mission Conference (NWMC), regarded as the oldest annual mission conference in the U.S., will be held July 19-26 on the campus of Westminster College in New Wilmington, Pa.
The Rev. Jimmie Hawkins, director of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)’s Office of Public Witness in Washington D.C., says “we have third-world conditions in parts of the United States of America,” reflecting on his travels to cities some might find surprising.
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.
“If the new Healthy Pastors, Healthy Congregations program were a breakfast food, you could say it’s selling like hotcakes,” said Andy Browne, Vice President of Church Relations for the Board of Pensions.
A wondrous change is taking place — a movement of the Spirit. Presbyterian congregations are reprioritizing the work of the Church, taking it from an institution of survival to a way of getting actively engaged in the community and making the world a better place.
Many individuals and families are just one paycheck away from homelessness, explained Rachel Eliser, a Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Young Adult Volunteer (YAV) serving with Safe Parking LA, a nonprofit committed to providing a safe and secure place for vehicle dwellers to sleep. The Safe Parking LA program is modeled after programs in other cities in California, including Santa Barbara, San Diego and San Jose, as well as communities in Washington state and Oregon.