Faith Presbyterian is a Matthew 25 church! Session accepted the PC(USA)’s invitation to follow Jesus’ teachings in Matthew 25:31-46 by becoming active disciples and making a difference in our community and the world.
As part of our Matthew 25 commitment, we pledge to two areas of focus:
* Building congregational vitality by deepening and energizing our faith and growing as joyful leaders and disciples actively engaged with our community as we share the gospel of Jesus Christ in word and deed
* Dismantling structural racism by fearlessly applying our faith to advocate and break down the systems, practices and thinking that underlie discrimination, bias, prejudice and oppression of people of color
We believe that we are already living out a commitment to building congregational vitality. PC(USA) proposes seven mark that indicate renewed commitment to the habits that foster an energetic engagement with the Spirit’s work in the world.
Here are the seven marks:
- A commitment to forming disciples over every member’s lifetime. This leads first to personal transformation, as people put on the heart of Christ, and then to social transformation, as people joyfully go forth into the community and tackle the issues facing today’s culture.
- Embracing the call to evangelism. We show forth the love of Christ by our actions and our lives even more than by our words. Our relationships are genuine and caring. People know we are Christians by our love.
- An outward focus. Our church is not a place to escape from the world, but rather our gateway to our community where we may be the hands, feet, heart and mouth of Jesus Christ for people who are suffering or marginalized.
- Empowering every member to discover their individual calling and the gifts God has given them so they can go forth and serve.
- Spirit-inspired worship that challenges, teaches, transforms, convicts and energizes us so when we are sent out, we have experienced the wonder of God and are changed for the better from when we arrived.
- Caring relationships modeled on God’s love. We open our doors and hearts to all people, and we build relationships modeled on God’s love, which leads to genuine reconciliation and peace.
- Congregations with healthy systems. Our mission focuses are clear. There is fiscal responsibility and accountability. We have thoughtful decision-making structures. Our leaders and staff enjoy a sustainable balance of work/rest time.
There is a growing awareness among Presbyterians that racism is a crisis and must be addressed. The PC(USA) is strongly committed to the struggle for racial justice. Participating in dismantling structural racism will require us to continue to lay a good foundation of understanding.
Racism is not primarily about individual prejudice or an individual’s beliefs and attitudes. Rather, racism in the U.S. is a socially constructed system. Some people are advantaged, and others are disadvantaged, merely because of their skin color, ethnic identity or their ancestral background. Social power and prejudice have combined to treat people differently, whether intentionally or unintentionally. Some people are privileged while others are oppressed. As a consequence, there is unequal and inequitable access to resources such as money, education, information and decision-making power.
Structural racism can show up in multiple ways, including:
- Housing discrimination that limits where people of color can live and steers them to rental markets rather than home ownership.
- Laws and policies that deny people of color access to quality education, employment and adequate health care.
- Food apartheid – areas deliberately devoid of quality, affordable fresh food.
- Mass incarceration and criminal justice systems that disproportionately target people of color with lengthier sentences, “stop-and-frisk” laws, the over-policing of communities of color, the school-to-prison pipeline, etc.
- Environmental racism – the dumping of hazardous waste, inadequate infrastructure, and lack of access to clean water that results in a range of serious health problems in communities of color.
The PC(USA) has joined several nonprofits, organizations and school systems in adapting a 21-step challenge for in understanding structural racism. Faith has already taken some of the steps. In 2020, we will work with groups, classes, and individuals to explore the steps through resources which are provided.
We are humbled to be part of a larger movement of our denomination to be the hands and feet of Christ in the world and proud to be able to tell our community that we are a Matthew 25 congregation.
To learn more about being a Matthew 25 church, please visit pcusa.org/matthew25.