MC USA raises awareness of pandemic’s impact on poverty

Mennonite Church USA has launched “Learn, Pray, Join: Cost of Poverty,” an initiative to raise awareness about the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on poverty in the United States and how Jesus calls his followers to respond.

During October, MC USA is offering resources, prayers and ways to care for one another and to address systemic issues that lead to poverty.

“The pandemic is apocalyptic,” said Sue Park-Hur, denominational minister of transformative peacemaking. “It is revealing the structural issues that cause poverty and their disproportionate impact on the most vulnerable.”

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a nonpartisan research institute, reports that one in three U.S. children faces food or housing hardship and that one in four adults had difficulty paying their expenses in the last seven days.

According to the report, the ­pandemic’s economic fallout is “particularly prevalent among Black adults, Latino adults and other people of color [reflecting] harsh, long-standing inequities — often stemming from structural racism in education, employment, housing and health care — that the current crisis has exacerbated.”

“Jesus taught us how to respond to these inequities,” Park-Hur said. “Jesus centered and uplifted those who were poor and oppressed. As Anabaptists, we are called to follow his example.

“We will be wrestling with questions such as: Who are the poor among us? What causes the inequities that lead to poverty? How is poverty impacting our congregations and communities? and How can we respond?”

MC USA is providing:

— Opportunities to learn about poverty through study guides, news stories and other resources. Leaders from MC USA agencies, congregations, colleges and ministry partners are writing blogs that explore what poverty looks like in various communities, how churches are responding and how their Anabaptist faith compels them to do this work.

— An invitation to pray for economic justice and for congregations and communities coping with poverty. Congregations are invited to pray and worship using responsive readings and hymns from MennoMedia’s new Voices Together hymnal.

— A call to join in mutual aid initiatives and advocacy work within MC USA and across the broader Anabaptist community. MC USA’s advocacy work includes its Justice Fund, which provides financial assistance to congregations engaging their communities to address poverty and dismantle racism.

“Cost of Poverty” resources are ­available at ministry/peacebuilding/learn-pray-join/cost-of-poverty.

“Learn, Pray, Join” initiatives seek to create opportunities across the church to deepen understanding around a common topic and to come together in prayer and support.

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