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Ministry with the Impoverished

Editor's note: The following was originally posted on the Eagle Ford Shale Initiative blog and has been reposted with permission.

 

On November 6th and 7th, I will join with other United Methodists in Dallas to explore how we can reclaim our Wesleyan heritage of ministry with the impoverished. Fifteen lay and clergy “practitioners” of ministry with the poor will join Conference and General Board staff for the Ministry with the Poor Roundtables in Dallas and in Chicago. We’ll share the best practices of starting and supporting new ministries with and by those who are impoverished. This means going beyond charity and seeking to build authentic, fruitful Christian community led and designed by those to suffer poverty. It means being honest about how different economic groups do church and life differently, and yet there is “one Lord, one faith, one Baptism” (Ephesian 4:4).

Our Eagle Ford area, as well as most of South Texas, is challenged by issues of poverty. Small and large communities have significant numbers of persons living well below the poverty line. An estimated 600,000 people live in South Texas colonias which often face inadequate housing, utility services, and food security.  25% of all children born in the United States are born in South Texas, and many are born into poverty.

As we explore our assets for starting new church communities, we must remember two things:

1) impoverished people and families are not just takers, but people who have and are gifts for ministry and renewing the church,

2) the Wesleyan movement began as a reform movement with and among the poor – it crossed lines of race and class

Below are some links and stories about ministry with the poor that have been important to me.

-Andrew

Rev. Andrew Fiser
Planting Strategist

 

Christian Community Development Association

 The Christian Community Development Association (CCDA) is a network of Christians committed to seeing people and communities wholistically restored. We believe that God wants to restore us not only to right relationship with Himself but also with our own true selves, our families and our communities. Not just spiritually, but emotionally, physically, economically, and socially. Not by offering mercy alone, but by undergirding mercy with justice.To this end, we follow Jesus’s example of reconciliation. We go where the brokenness is. We live among the people in some of America’s neediest neighborhoods. We become one with our neighbors until there is no longer an “us” and “them” but only a “we.” And, in the words of the Prophet Jeremiah, “we work and pray for the well-being of our city [or neighborhood],” trusting that if the entire community does well and prospers, then we will prosper also.

The CCD philosophy can be summed up by the three “R’s”: Relocation, Reconciliation, and Redistribution.   The roots of the Christian Community Development Association (CCDA) stretch back to 1960 when CCDA Founder, John Perkins (along with his wife, Vera Mae) relocated their family to the struggling community of Mendenhall, Mississippi to work with the people there. The Perkinses devoted thirty-five years to living out the principles of Christian Community Development in Mississippi and California, leaving behind ministries and churches that are now headed by indigenous Christian leaders.

Learn more about opportunities and resources at ccda.org

 

Church For All People (Columbus, Ohio)

The United Methodist Church for All People was intentionally planted to develop Christian community across lines of race and class.   Every year they offer training opportunities for churches and leaders wanting to learn best practices for connecting with neighbors, embracing difference, and giving dignity.  Learn more at 4allpeople.org 

 

New Monasticism: What it Has to Say to Today’s Church by Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove

New Monasticism is a growing movement of committed Christians who are recovering the radical discipleship of monasticism and unearthing a fresh expression of Christianity in America. It’s not centered in a traditional monastery–many New Monastics are married with children–but instead its members live radically, settling in abandoned sections of society, committing to community, sharing incomes, serving the poor, and practicing spiritual disciplines.

“New Monasticism “by Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove offers an insider’s perspective into the life of the New Monastics and shows how this movement is dependent on the church for stability, diversity, and structure. A must-read for New Monastics or those considering joining the movement, it will also appeal to pastors, leaders, those interested in the emerging church, and 20- and 30-somethings searching for new ways to be Christian.  (Click here to find book) 

 

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Rev. Andrew Fiser

Andrew Fiser is a planting strategist for the Eagle Ford Shale Initiative in South Texas, where he provides leadership and oversight to the development and implementation of a custom-fit church planting plan to reach and disciple unchurched residents and new people moving into the communities within the Eagle Ford Shale corridor.

About This Blog

Read and comment on a range of personal reflections and perspectives about poverty and Ministry with the Poor. Our goal is to attract diverse voices and points of view from United Methodists and friends, including people and communities living in conditions of poverty, other experts, religious leaders, community organizers, advocates, policy makers, volunteers, and all engaged in Ministry with the Poor.