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Hope, compassion, justice and radical hospitality

Children in Poverty task force adopts mission, core values, goals

By Jessica Connor

South Carolina is another step closer to tackling the systemic problem of children in poverty thanks to a new mission, core values and goals statement adopted by the S.C. Pan Methodist Campaign for Children in Poverty task force.

At their meeting Jan. 22, the task force agreed that it exists to equip congregations to share in God s mission by providing hope, compassion, justice and radical hospitality to children who live in poverty.

The Triune God identifies with, defends and welcomes ˜the orphans, widows and sojourners and calls us to participate in Jesus Christ s reign of justice, generosity, compassion and joy,  the group stated as core values, noting it believes the following:

¢ All persons are made in the image of God and redeemed in Jesus Christ and thereby have inherent worth, dignity and potential to flourish as God s beloved children;

¢ The plight of children around the world and in South Carolina is a theological, spiritual, moral and missional crisis for The United Methodist Church;

¢ The mission of the church is to bring good news to the poor by being a visible sign, foretaste and instrument of God s compassion, justice and radical hospitality;

¢ Methodism began among the poor and faithfulness to the Wesleyan heritage requires solidarity with those who live in poverty as a means of divine grace;

¢ The South Carolina Conference is uniquely positioned to transform ˜corridors of shame into ˜corridors of hope by providing education, advocacy and radical hospitality in communities throughout the state and receiving the gifts of those who live in poverty; and

¢ Ministry with the poor is an invitation to be transformed by the God who comes among us in those whom Jesus called ˜the least of these and Charles Wesley called ˜Jesus bosom friends.

As Bishop Ken Carder said to the group in outlining the mission, core values and goals statement, It s not about just being nice to people who show up in church, but it s about radical hospitality. 

The task force hopes to carry out four key goals in relation to children in poverty, whether that is economic poverty or otherwise: 1) to urge Methodist congregations to reach out and minister with those in their community who are oppressed by poverty and by prevailing attitudes about the poor; 2) to provide resources which will help these congregations in their ministry efforts; 3) to encourage partnerships among congregations and community agencies that deal with the poor; and 4) to advocate for changes in systems that perpetuate poverty.

In a devotion at the opening of the meeting, Dr. Carolyn Prince, of the Children s Defense Fund, urged the group to take to heart a greeting traditionally used by the mighty Maasai warriors of Africa, who always ask, And how are the children?  upon meeting. The traditional response is, All the children are well. 

I wonder if it would begin to make a difference in how children are cared for in our families, nation, state and communities (if we asked that here in the U.S.),  Prince said to the task force ”if religious leaders, superintendents, business executives and legislators asked that as a daily practice. What would it be like if we could say all the children are well? 

The group is planning a March Forth event on March 4 to raise awareness about children in poverty, possibly tied in with efforts at Annual Conference. Details will be announced in the next Advocate.

The task force will meet again Feb. 25.

What is your church doing to help people in poverty?

Is your church doing something to address poverty, or specifically, children in poverty? This can be a dialogue, lecture, seminar, church-wide mission day, existing ongoing ministry, etc. Let the Advocate know so we can share your story. Email editor Jessica Connor at jconnor@umcsc.org by Feb. 10 (use the subject line poverty ), or call her at 803-786-9486, ext. 338.

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