I am so excited about the many activities going on in the presbytery. We have Education Day on March 21st. This is an opportunity for the entire congregation to come out and listen, learn, share, fellowship and get to know other members of the presbytery. The workshops are designed to entice everyone to imagine and re-imagine what the church can be.
In addition to Education Day, Dismantling Racism and Privilege (DRAP) has created Presbyterians Care. This program encourages congregations to work inside and outside of the church building, reaching out to the community through various service projects. The first big focus weekend is March 20 – 22.
And then there is Matthew 25, a denomination wide attempt to have congregations commit to dismantling systemic racism, poverty, and doing activities to promote congregational vitality. The presbytery is encouraging every congregation to be a Matthew 25 congregation and is providing financial incentives of $250 – $500 by completing the presbytery’s check list.
When put together, this can be confusing. This is a lot. My concern is that it may be too much. We’re becoming like the performer on the Ed Sullivan Show who used to balance the spinning plates on a long pole. We find ourselves running back and forth making sure nothing stops moving and crashes!
The solution is to focus. I have a poster on the wall in my office that in part reads, “. . . feel overwhelmed, (feel) crazy. Feel uncertain. Feel angry. Feel afraid. Feel powerless. Feel frozen. Then focus!”
Matthew 25 is the focus of this presbytery. Everything flows through Matthew 25, and is centered around Matthew 25 for the year 2020. This means developing a fluid and less rigid way for congregations and members of the presbytery to participate in Matthew 25. It means creating and developing new ways to fight against poverty, racism, and being a vital congregation while doing it.
Perhaps congregations should determine what they would like to do in order to get credit toward the Matthew 25 incentives. For example, Webster Groves is doing work on Gun Violence Prevention. Their work goes toward Matthew 25 credit. Another example is having several members attend a DRAP meeting, or doing a community project for Presbyterian Cares. These all count toward Matthew 25 participation. If we focus on Matthew 25, the overwhelming amount of activity swirling around the presbytery will feel more like oxygen to breathe and less like water to drown in. Later, I will say more about Matthew 25 and how to complete the checklist. Until then, keep getting excited about what we are doing as a presbytery and what you plan to do as a church or other organization.
Rev. Craig M. Howard