New Matthew 25 Bible study explores the intersectionality of vital congregations and racism

‘The Gospel and Inclusivity’ looks at identity through the reading of Galatians

by Melody K. Smith | Presbyterian News Service

‘The Gospel and Inclusivity,” a free downloadable Bible study based on the Book of Galatians, is now available on the Matthew 25 resource page.

LOUISVILLE — The vision for the Matthew 25 invitation asks us to engage together in the three works of vitalizing congregations, dismantling structural racism and eradicating systemic poverty. Though individual, these three works are inseparable. Can a congregation be vital without confronting racism? What is at stake when racism directs our congregational and community life?

The Rev. Samuel Son, manager of diversity and reconciliation in the Presbyterian Mission Agency, is the voice behind a new Matthew 25 Bible study, “The Gospel and Inclusivity.”

“I started this study by sharing my journey of discovery,” Son said, “that the gospel is about how we do church life that is inclusive.”

Eighty percent of American churches are monocultural. In the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), 89% of congregations are predominantly white.

“I had accepted this segregation as an unfortunate but effective means of doing church. Why let cultural differences get in the way of the work of the church?” said Son. “Then the study of the Scriptures made the scales of discrimination begin to fall off my eyes.”

Son encourages the reading of Galatians multiple times — alone, together and out loud. Then he begins to break down the various sections of Paul’s letter to the church at Galatia. “Most of Paul’s letters are basically him working out theologically the understanding that Jesus Christ totally changed what it means to be God’s people when by Christ’s sacrifice, Christ welcomed all people to God’s household,” said Son.

Then he poses the question, “If Paul visited us, what letter would he have penned to the American church? Would it start with the same warning and urgency as the Galatian letter? Would he see the segregated Sunday services as the very evidence that we have the words of the gospel but not its heart?”

The Matthew 25 Bible Study, “The Gospel and Inclusivity,” is available for free digital download on the Matthew 25 resource page. The Bible study can be done alone, but Son encourages groups to take the journey together.


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