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PC(USA)’s Matthew 25 webinar looks at where Jesus stands on poverty

The May 23 workshop will explore holistic practices to end systemic poverty

by Scott O’Neill | Presbyterian News Service

LOUISVILLE — The first in a three-part series of online workshops dedicated to the three main Matthew 25 foci kicks off this month with “Where Does Jesus Stand? Exploring Five Spiritual Practices to End Poverty.” The Zoom event begins at 2 p.m. Eastern Time on Tuesday, May 23. Registration is required and participants can do so here.

Attendees will learn about a holistic approach to eradicating systemic poverty, which includes five spiritual practices:

  • Worship
  • Learn
  • Relate
  • Act
  • Share

Laura VanDale, a hunger action advocate with the Presbytery of the Western Reserve and one of the workshop facilitators, noted that the integrated approach challenges congregations to think about poverty justice in a unique way.

Laura VanDale is a hunger action advocate in the Presbytery of the Western Reserve. (Photo by Kimberly Boone)

“Experience tells us that congregations can easily get stuck in old patterns of addressing social issues by doing the same thing year after year,” said VanDale. “I think the beauty of the five spiritual practices is that they challenge folks to engage in justice work in ways they maybe have not considered before, which can lead to a more relational, holistic understanding of our call as followers of Jesus.”

Workshop facilitators are PC(USA) national staff members and mid council leaders who sit on the Matthew 25 eradicating systemic poverty consulting team. In addition to VanDale, PMA staff team members include the Rev. Dr. Alonzo Johnson, coordinator of the Presbyterian Committee on the Self-Development of People; Ellen Sherby, associate director for World Mission’s Global Connections; the Rev. Carl Horton, coordinator of the Presbyterian Peacemaking Program, Christi Boyd, mission co-worker serving in the Democratic Republic of the Congo; and the Rev. Rebecca Barnes, coordinator of the Presbyterian Hunger Program.

Workshop participants will be provided tools, access to resources, and idea for appropriate next steps in their communities or congregations, including an anti-poverty resource packet that includes core principles, assessment questions, FAQs, faith assertions, resource suggestions and action suggestions — all components that can be used in personal and congregational life to eradicate systemic poverty.

The Rev. Rebecca Barnes

According to Barnes, workshop attendees will discover that solutions to the poverty problem must address the root structural causes while also developing meaningful relationships for the journey ahead.

“We hope that attendees will really be able to understand — and in turn interpret to others — how poverty is systemic in nature and thus how our solutions need to tackle the root structural causes of poverty,” said Barnes. “We also hope that participants will get to know one another, as well as folks from our consulting team, so they can have companions on the journey as we work together to end poverty and be a Matthew 25 church.”

Real-time Spanish interpretation for this workshop will be available.

To register for the workshop, click here.

Additional Matthew 25-focused workshops are tentatively scheduled for August around building congregational vitality, with a workshop on dismantling structural racism in November.

A comprehensive list of Matthew 25-related resources, including Bible study and worship resources, other online events, bulletin inserts, dismantling structural racism and building congregational vitality resources, can be found on the Matthew 25 resource page.

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