What is a Matthew 25 church?
Matthew 25:31–46 calls all of us to actively engage in the world around us so our faith comes alive and we awake to new possibilities. Moved by this passage, the 222nd and 223rd General Assemblies called upon the PC(USA) to act boldly and compassionately to serve people who are hungry, oppressed, imprisoned, or poor by committing to being a Matthew 25 church, and individual congregations were asked to focus their work on at least one of the following initiatives: building congregational vitality, dismantling structural racism, or eradicating systemic poverty.
How this vision unites all Presbyterians
In March of 2020, the DPC Session voted to become a Matthew 25 Church. A 13-member task force formed, including representatives from each of the church’s programmatic committees, to discern God’s will for our congregation and community. By accepting the Matthew 25 invitation, Doylestown Presbyterian Church will help our denomination become a more relevant presence in the world. We recognize Christ’s urgent call to be a church of action, where God’s love, justice and mercy shine forth and are contagious, and we rejoice how our re-energized faith can unite all Presbyterians for a common and holy purpose to show God’s love for all humanity.
As part of its widely distributed news service, PC(USA) has shared with our denomination details of our efforts to honor African-Americans with ties to DPC – past and present – during Black History Month and beyond. We are thrilled to see the story of DPC member Nancy Nelson and her mother Gladys Nickleby Nelson, who was instrumental in inoculating people across the country with the polio vaccine, be given a nationwide platform. We invite you to read and share this article as we move forward with our Matthew 25 initiative with the focus of dismantling racism and its intersectionality with poverty.
How the DPC Matthew 25 taskforce chose our specific focus
The taskforce first met in June 2020 and began the process with a Bible study led by Pastor Josh Gill on the history and context of Matthew 25. Discussion focused on Jesus’ emphasis on serving “the least of these”, and its application to our work group. The group also discussed the presence of systems, both in scripture and everyday lives, and the ways in which they can both lift us up or oppress us. The taskforce then divided into 3 subcommittees to study each of the Matthew 25 focuses, and after careful discernment, weekly meetings, prayer, extensive collection of information, and thoughtful discussion, the taskforce recommended that the Matthew 25 Initiative at DPC focus on dismantling structural racism and its intersectionality with poverty. Session approved this recommendation at its October meeting, and task force members continued to work on developing the initiative by establishing goals and priorities, creating an overall plan, constructing implementation criteria, and forming communication strategy to engage committees and individuals throughout the congregation.
Why Dismantling Structural Racism and its Intersectionality with Poverty was chosen as the focus for DPC. We did not invent racism, but it is a self-perpetuating system. While we may not bear personal responsibility for the insidious influences it has on our society, we do have a responsibility to act to rectify the situation. The consequences and impact of structural racism and its intersectionality with poverty on those targeted have been severe and multifaceted, including de facto segregation, income inequality and an astounding gap in wealth, adverse health consequences, fewer educational opportunities, and increased violence and incarceration. Selecting this focus will build on the mission efforts we have made in helping those living in poverty while trying to eliminate root causes. The initiative will provide meaningful opportunities for DPC members to get involved in combating both of these social conditions.
Scripture tells us:
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second like it : ”You shall love your neighbor as yourself” -Matthew 22:37-39
Do not judge by appearances but judge with right judgement. -John 7:24
I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. -John 13:34