Taking the Matthew 25 Initiative for a test drive

 

Moffett to roll out the initiative Friday in the Twin Cities

by Mike Ferguson | Presbyterian News Service

The Rev. Dr. Diane Moffett, president and executive director of the Presbyterian Mission Agency, will explain the PC(USA)’s Matthew 25 Initiative to the Presbytery of the Twin Cities Area Friday. (Photo by Mike Ferguson)

LOUISVILLE — On Friday staff at the Presbytery of the Twin Cities Area and others will hear about a Presbyterian Mission Agency initiative already underway informally and organically in a number of Presbyterian churches.

The Matthew 25 Initiative is designed to bring about what an initiative brochure calls “radical and fearless discipleship” among congregations and mid councils by engaging in three targeted missions: building congregational vitality, dismantling systemic poverty and eradicating structural racism.

“When I’m asked to preach, I try to spread the news of what we are asking congregations to do,” the PMA’s president and executive director, the Rev. Dr. Diane Moffett, told the Coordinating Committee of the PMA’s Board of Directors Thursday during a videoconference. “The goal is for the (Presbyterian Church [U.S.A.]) to become excited about dismantling poverty and structural racism and building congregational vitality.”

“We are moving and sharing the vision,” she said. “(Friday) is the first test.”

A widespread rollout of the initiative is planned for spring.

The Matthew 25 account of the Son of Humanity placing sheep on the right and goats on the left “calls all of us to actively engage in the world around us, so our faith comes alive and we wake up to new possibilities,” the initiative states. It notes both the 222nd and 223rd General Assemblies, in 2016 and 2018, “exhorted the PC(USA) to act boldly and compassionately to serve the hungry, the oppressed, the imprisoned and the poor.”

The initiative is designed in part to help make the denomination more relevant. “We rejoice,” the initiative states, “how our re-energized faith can unite all Presbyterians for a common and holy purpose.”

The initiative aims to multiply the number of churches already engaged in Matthew 25 work around the three focus areas in these ways:

  • Building congregational vitality by challenging people and congregations to deepen their faith and get actively and joyfully engaged with their community and the world.
  • Dismantling systemic poverty by working to change laws, policies, plans and structures in our society that perpetuate economic exploitation of people who are poor.
  • Eradicating structural racism by advocating and acting to break down the systems, practices and thinking that underlie discrimination, bias, prejudice and oppression of people of color.

The goal for the national church is “to be a clearinghouse of resources, training materials, devotional and preaching aids, success stories, curricula and more,” the initiative states, “everything to help you strengthen relationships, transform your church, and bring alive your commitment to ‘serve the least of these’ in your community and around the world.”

Individual congregations can do their part “as you live out your commitment” by telling their stories “so we can share them with the wider church and continue to fan the flame of our common mission.”

During Thursday’s conference call, Moffett asked PMA board members to “be a voice for us and help us … We want the board to be that voice for us so we can be actively engaged in the world.”

Moffett said she plans to deliver a Bible study in the Twin Cities Friday making the biblical case for carrying out the initiative.

“As the board deals with these issues, we need to have a theological basis,” she said. “We plan to give a lot of resources to people.”


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