Whatever we do for the least of these, we do for Christ.
Because of our calling to 'above all, love,' we believe we are called to live out Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 25:40 to serve our neighbors in need.
As brothers and sisters of the Christian faith we are asked to love one another. Matthew 25 expands on that idea by teaching us to treat all beings as we would treat the Lord. First Pres is using this principle to guide our focus on helping the homeless in our community. We will seek to strengthen our relationships with current mission partners that are already working to serve this population. Church leaders and congregation members are also being asked to examine how we can reach those affected by housing insecurity more deeply.
Frequently Asked Questions
What about current missions?
First Pres will continue to support and participate in missions we are currently involved in. Matthew 25 funds and organization will have a focus on meeting the needs of individuals experiencing homelessness or home insecurity and the groups that support those individuals. Many of our current missions align with the purpose of Matthew 25 therefore fund could be allocated to support those existing missions.
Are we an official Matthew 25 church?
The Session of First Pres WC has decided not to be an official Matthew 25 church as defined by the Presbyterian Mission Agency, but has established a Matthew 25 Task Force to help guide the congregation in serving as we are called to serve by Jesus in Matthew 25.
Does Matthew 25 replace "Above all, love"?
Our Matthew 25 initiative seeks to express “above all love” in action and in word. Caring for our brothers and sisters is central to First Pres and has been lived out in the work of our well-established missions for quite some time. Working in community with local mission partners, Matthew 25/Homelessness Initiative seeks to involve members of our First Pres congregation in efforts designed help to relieve the suffering of our brothers and sisters impacted by housing insecurity.
What do we mean by "the least of these?"
When Jesus identified with “the least of these,” he was casting his lot with common, ordinary folk...like us. They were always easily overlooked and sometimes it was just easier to look away. They were the hungry and thirsty, the stranger, the homeless, the naked, the prisoner, the sick and alone. They are with us still and Christ is still with them.
Whom are we serving?
We are aiming to serve any person(s) in West Chester, or surrounding areas, who may be affected by housing insecurity.
Who decides the Matthew 25 focus?
We are all relying on God’s guidance and direction to decide our focus. With prayerful consideration Session will make these decisions. (Keeping in mind that Session represents our congregation.) The “Matthew 25 Leadership Team” (comprised of representatives from all of the Session Committees), along with Pastors, staff, Deacons and Trustees will provide input to Session for approval. Everyone is welcome to voice their ideas to Session members for consideration.
Are we partnering with local mission organizations or are we starting from scratch?
The Homelessness Initiative at First Presbyterian seeks to work closely with our local mission partners to determine what needs are met through these organizations and to identify the unmet needs where we can be of service.
How can the congregation help with this effort?
Become informed on the issue of housing insecurity and homelessness by reading Welcome Homeless by Alan Graham and participating in a church book study group.
Volunteer time to this initiative by participating in opportunities at First Pres and at our mission partners – Friends Association, Decades to Doorways, Salvation Army, and Bridge of Hope.
Where can we find out more specifics?
Any member of Session, the Mathew 25 Task Force, or the pastoral staff can answer additional questions.
How long do we intend to use Matthew 25 as our guiding principal?
Mathew 25 will be our guiding principal until our congregation is called to another area of mission.