South Highland has now completed two years as part of the Matthew 25 Initiative. The goals for this initiative are described on the Presbyterian Mission website.
- 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 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.
- Eradicating systemic poverty by working to change laws, policies, plans, and structures in our society that perpetuate economic exploitation of people who are poor.
Our group of Matthew 25 Initiative advisors are known as the M25 Ambassadors. In-person and Zoom meetings occur quarterly.
At the 2016 Together for the Gospel Conference, historian-theologian-author Jemar Tisby spoke of the essential elements of all genuine racial reconciliation, an A.R.C. of Racial Justice (also economic and social justice). Tisby said there must be:
Awareness: engages our heads
Relationships: engage our hearts
Commitment: engages our hands.
Matthew 25 at SHPC strives to promote programs and activities for our entire church community’s involvement that address all three of these engagements.
Moments of Progress
Over the past two years we:
- provided Moments for Matthew 25 during Sunday worship that highlight mission opportunities and local organizations that work toward M25 goals.
- arranged an SHPC group tour of Sixteenth Street Baptist Church.
- presented guest speaker Sarah Collins Rudolph for a noon Lunch ‘n Learn.
- contributed to WNL programming in conjunction with Rev. Larry Michael. Guest speakers have included columnist and author John Archibald, representatives from Alabama Arise (a statewide organization advancing public policies to improve the lives of Alabamians who are marginalized by poverty), and Jai-Gregory Clark with Faith In Action Alabama.
- created a care-team for a resettled family from Afghanistan with ongoing support and involvement.
- planned a weekday and weekend group tour of the Legacy Museum and National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery. These trips were followed by a group potluck to facilitate further discussion of the impact of these visits.
- began this M25 blog to provide information and opportunities at the click of a mouse.
Though South Highland’s Social Justice Book Club predates our involvement with the Matthew 25 Initiative, it has been an important component for those who are eager to learn more about the impact of inequity and injustice. It also serves to build relationships within the congregation that increase vitality and commitment.
The goal of the Matthew 25 Ambassadors is to present learning, service, and action opportunities to the SHPC community. Please consider joining in this effort. All are welcome to be a part of our M25 Ambassador planning team. Watch for announcements about upcoming meetings.
Respectfully submitted by Laura Chapman, Larry Harper, Carolyn Ashworth, and Heidi Messier