Webinar Series on Poverty and Community Engagement
By Bryan Tener
Are you looking for ways that your congregation can engage with issues of justice but are finding it difficult to know where to start, what steps to take, or even identifying the issues? With all that is taking place in our world today – the pandemic, racial injustice, economic hardships, and beyond – it can be overwhelming. In the obstacles and challenges we face as the human community and as followers of Christ, we know that there is life-giving good news that makes a tangible difference in people’s lives: “Blessed are the poor . . . for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 5:3, NRSV).
Poverty is often narrowly defined with a focus on income, but it can be more broadly defined in a way that drives us to reflect more deeply on how the church is called to offer the life-giving good news of Jesus Christ. Amartya Sen, the Nobel laureate in economics, defines poverty as “the lack of freedom to have or to do basic things that you value'' (cited in “How to Define Poverty,” New York Times, May 26, 2001). Defined in this way, poverty is experienced in several spheres that make up the whole of life. From the political sphere, to physical, spiritual, cultural, and economic spheres, poverty can deeply affect the communities around us, creating isolation, disunity, and lack of access to the fullness of life that God has invited us into. Poverty— systemic poverty—undermines the vision of the beloved community that we as followers of Christ seek to work toward with God.
The church can take tangible, relevant, and life-giving actions to work toward the redemption of the above-mentioned spheres so that all people may experience the fullness of life. Beginning September 16, 2020, Path 1 and Discipleship Ministries will be hosting a monthly webinar series featuring leaders in the local church and resource experts who will explore each of the spheres, the experience of poverty in the community, and how the church is working toward building the beloved community of God. Through identifying poverty’s effects, strategies for community engagement, and learning best practices, participants in the webinar will gain the opportunity to discern, grow, and engage their own community and take action that makes a difference and that offers good news to all.