Have you heard that our church is studying childhood poverty this fall?
Many of us are blessed with abundance or at least with enough to enjoy what we consider a decent, middle-class lifestyle, and share a little extra with our poor neighbors through Greensboro Urban Ministry, mission trips and other charities. So why is a nice church like ours talking so much about childhood poverty?
A better question might be, “Am I taking advantage of the opportunity to learn more?”
Our Session established goals for the work of the church this year. One of those was to increase our efforts in advocacy and education on issues of justice and peacemaking. Another was to consider how Guilford Park might become a 21st Century church, a “thought leader” in our community. The Childhood Poverty study addresses both goals.
But the underlying reason for our study is that as we worked on justice and peacemaking issues, we realized how much poverty impacts those who are marginalized. Some folks might consider that more of a political issue, not a faith concern for the church. But it turns out that the Bible, and in particular the prophets and Jesus, have a lot to say about God’s care for the poor and marginalized and God’s passion to seek justice for them. And it’s pretty clear that God expects us to have that passion, too.
We start from a place of confessing: That we don’t know as much as we think. That we make a lot of assumptions. That we believe and recite a lot of myths. That we would rather not think about poor children too much. That we’re not sure they’re really poor.
If you haven’t had a chance to participate in any of the classes, there are still two more each of the Monday evening book study and the 10:00 a.m. Sunday School class. We would welcome you!
But even if you can’t make any of those, we really, REALLY hope you will join us for the Ruth Lamb Enrichment Series weekend, October 21 and 22.
Who was Ruth Lamb? A long-time member and supporter of GPPC. She and her husband Jack established a fund to support enriching events for the church long after they were gone. And the fund has done just that: We’ve heard great speakers, participated in marriage enrichment and music programs, and expanded our understanding of youth ministry and liturgical arts, to name a few.
This year for only the second time in the fund’s 20+ year history, we have a speaker on a social justice issue, childhood poverty. He is Gene Nichol, professor and former Dean of the law school at UNC-Chapel Hill. Gene is also director of the N.C. Poverty Research Fund. Gene has studied poverty in North Carolina over many years and has a challenging message: It will take both private charity and public policy changes to lift our children out of poverty.
Gene’s is a faith-driven advocacy. He has a story about how he came up out of the Texas football culture where he was a top college recruit and in the process realized how the poor, including his family, were looked down upon. His personal story and his Catholic background have motivated Gene to care passionately about “the least of these.”
So we hope you’ll come hear Gene, come and join our church family, come and welcome our community for this excellent speaker. All the details are available at the church website, on the church Facebook page, and in the brochures and posters at the church. Be sure to make a reservation and prepay for the dinner Saturday the 21st at 6:00 p.m. Everything else is free and requires no reservation.
Why should we learn more about childhood poverty? Because children in poverty are God’s children, and they are our children, too.
-Melanie Rodenbough, for the Justice and Peacemaking Committee