New partnership offers online Matthew 25 curriculum

Awakening to structural racism is focus of first course

by Melody K. Smith | Presbyterian News Service

As part of the Matthew 25 vision, a pilot online course called “Awakening to Structural Racism” is set to begin Aug. 10. (Contributed photo)

LOUISVILLE — Stony Point Center and Johnson C. Smith Theological Seminary, at the request of the Presbyterian Mission Agency, are teaming up to develop online and eventually in-person curriculum to support the Matthew 25 vision. Courses center on the three focuses of the vision: nurturing vital congregations and communities of faith, dismantling structural racism and working to end systemic poverty.

The pilot course begins Aug. 10 and consists of four two-hour classes titled “Awakening to Structural Racism.” The classes, designed to be highly participatory, include biblical study, theological reflection and content designed to help participants integrate new ideas. This first course is for those who are interested in learning more about structural racism and how to resist and deconstruct its destructive power in our own lives, our churches, our communities and the broader culture.

“Given the current context in our country and around the world, so many of our churches, new worshiping communities and mid councils are eager to understand what it means to be a Matthew 25 church, presbytery and denomination,” said the Rev. Dr. Diane Moffett, president and executive director of the Presbyterian Mission Agency. “This fall we are launching four pilot programs focused on the fundamentals of the Matthew 25 Vision, with an emphasis on supporting Presbyterians who want to better understand and change our behaviors regarding structural racism.”

 

The course is financially accessible to all who want to learn. Participants are asked to pay for the course on a sliding scale, and no one will be turned away for lack of financial resources.

All course offerings in 2020 will be offered online with two different learning formats offering participants the option of participating with others in weekly online sessions or engaging the material independently on the participants’ time. Each of these courses is designed to build on the one prior. The course will integrate a broad and comprehensive reading of biblical text and a practice of theological reflection.

“Because this is designed to be experiential learning, students will be assigned to ‘learning cohorts’ that will meet during each class and between classes if they choose,” said the Rev. Paul Timothy Roberts Sr., president of Johnson C. Smith Theological Seminary. “The goal is to process the experience, share ideas and encourage one another in this educational and faith-building journey.”

 

Courses to be offered this fall include: The Roots of Systemic Racism, Civil Initiative and the Engaged Church, and Healing and Repair: Reparations for Black/Indigenous/People of Color as the Fundamental Act of Liberation for Christian Churches in the U.S.

“Stony Point Center and Johnson C. Smith Seminary are two organizations that are uniquely situated to develop courses and learning on this subject,” said Moffett. “Stony Point creates a learning environment that encourages participants not just to learn about injustice but to embody and practice what they learn. At the same time, Johnson C. Smith is reimagining what theological education should look like in the 21st century. The focus is on the student’s ability to gain core competency in the curriculum as evidenced by their ability to integrate what they learn in their ministry context.”

To facilitate community learning and growth, people interested in participating are encouraged to register in groups of three or more from the same community/church/presbytery in order to support one another in processing new ideas and encouraging shared action in their faith community.

Please consider registering now for the first course, called “Awakening to Structural Racism,” which will begin on Monday, Aug. 10. To learn more about these classes, visit presbyterianmission.org/matthew-25/curriculum/.

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.

Many PC(USA) congregations identify themselves as Matthew 25 churches and Presbyterians who are living out Jesus’ call. The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) aims to help multiply this loving commitment to radical and fearless discipleship by partnering with mid councils and congregations to help them embrace one or more of the three focuses of Matthew 25 — building congregational vitality, dismantling structural racism and eradicating systemic poverty. Learn more by visiting pcusa.org/matthew25.


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