A well-chosen film and a guided discussion puts a human face on two-dimensional stereotypes
by Melody K. Smith | Presbyterian News Service
LOUISVILLE — “Engaging Matthew 25 Through Film — Eradicating Systemic Poverty” is a video guide that takes the reader through the life of a person or family burdened by poverty. The five films chosen for this new resource are intended to not only inform readers about poverty but also stir feelings, and just maybe move them from a place of comfort to join with others in doing something for those trapped in poverty. In other words, actively engage in the world around us.
All the stories take place amid a culture of plenty. Thus, the protagonists are outsiders looking in with longing eyes. We see them struggling and reacting to their situation, not always in a way considered “appropriate.” In each person’s story, you can recognize the reflection of Christ and be moved to engage in their suffering as “one of the least of these who are members of my family.”
Engaging with Matthew 25 and the three areas of focus that make up the vision — building congregational vitality, dismantling structural racism and eradicating systemic poverty — is being addressed in a variety of ways by the 900-plus congregations/groups and 78 mid councils that have signed on since its launch in April 2019.
The author of this video discussion series is Dr. Edward McNulty, a Presbyterian minister who for many years was the film reviewer for Presbyterians Today. Three of his 14 books are published by Westminster John Knox Press: “Praying the Movies,” “Praying the Movies II” and “Faith & Film.” There are many more of his reviews of films dealing with racism and social justice issues at visualparables.org.
“My hope for this booklet is that those concerned about our racial divide will invite friends to watch and discuss one or more of the films,” said McNulty. “I believe that watching a story is far more compelling than arguing abstract principles. Although desirable that churches sponsor such movie nights, any individual with a DVD player can do so as well.”
This installment of the video series was edited by the Rev. Rebecca Barnes, coordinator of the Presbyterian Hunger Program for the Presbyterian Mission Agency.
This study is set up as six sessions, though it could easily be 10 or 12, however the leader(s) choose to frame it.
“There are structures in our society that all but guarantee people living in poverty will stay that way, but God calls people of faith to bring good news to people who are poor, to actively engage our communities, and to create systems that bring hope and healing to the world,” said the Rev. Dr. Diane Moffett, president and executive director of the Presbyterian Mission Agency. “Stories are not enough to end poverty, but this video series is another way to begin those challenging conversations.”
This resource is available for free digital download on the Matthew 25 website. The first installment of the video series addressed Dismantling Structural Racism and is available for free digital download here.
Matthew 25:31–46 calls all of us to actively engage in the world around us, so our faith comes alive and we wake up to new possibilities. Convicted by this Scripture passage, both the 222nd and 223rd General Assemblies (2016 and 2018) exhorted the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) to act boldly and compassionately to serve people who are hungry, oppressed, imprisoned or poor.
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Categories: Hunger & Poverty, Matthew 25
Tags: dr. edward mcnulty, engaging matthew 25 through film — eradicating systemic poverty, matthew 25 invitation, matthew 25:31-46, presbyterian hunger program, rev. dr. diane moffett, rev. rebecca barnes, westminster john knox press
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Ministries: Matthew 25 in the PC(USA): Join the Movement