Existence of Poverty is Spiritual Issue

From the United Methodist General Board of Church and Society (http://www.umc-gbcs.org):

 

By Bishop Peggy Johnson

 

One of the four United Methodist Church “Foci” is “Ministry with the Poor.” For the past two days I attended a “Poverty Summit” in Harrisburg, Pa., that was sponsored by “United Methodist Advocacy. (NOTE: This event took place on October 10-11 in Camp Hill.)

 

This group is a voice for justice issues that come before the state legislature in Harrisburg. All three United Methodist conferences in Pennsylvania support this effort.

 

Information shared at this poverty forum was practical and timely. These are difficult economic times for everyone. The poor are hit even harder and their suffering is enormous.

 

In the United States, our poverty levels are considered wealthy when compared to our sisters and brothers in developing countries.

 

Speaker after speaker stressed the same themes:

 

  • The existence of poverty is a spiritual issue. People of faith are called by God to respond to the human needs of others. It takes faith to sacrifice one’s means for the poor. Only when we trust God to take care of us when we “give ourselves away” are we able to give as we should.
  • Personal contact with people who live in poverty is vitally important. These are real people, not just numbers.
  • It is easy to ignore a number, to stereotype people in poverty or to even judge people as deserving of their circumstances. When you take the time to get to know people, learn their stories and share their life, it is a blessing for everyone.
  • Likewise, when we advocate for the needs of the poor we need to personally know state officials and leaders who make decisions about the distribution of wealth so as to have a greater influence on their votes.
  • Networking is the key to success in eliminating poverty. We need to work with other churches, civic groups, schools, community organizations and individuals to accomplish the task. Each group has resources that the other needs.

Here are some Web sites that can help you and your church as you address the needs of people who live in poverty in your area:

 

Editor’s note: Bishop Johnson is episcopal leader of the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference. This article is reprinted from her Oct. 12 “Bishop’s Blog: Thoughts on Faith & Life from Bishop Peggy A. Johnson” (http://bishoppeggyjohnson.blogspot.com/).

 

Prophet Driven Economy (http://www.umc-gbcs.org/site/c.frLJK2PKLqF/b.5716933/k.73BD/Prophet_Driven_Economy.htm) is a Web resource from the General Board of Church & Society that offers biblical reflection and resources to address poverty issues.

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