Do you have a heart for families? When a family emerges out of a dire situation and you see their lives transform, do you light up? Do you sometimes wish that you could make more of a difference for working families that just get by and never manage to get beyond poverty?
Because Forestville UMC already has a heart for those in need and helps by providing families with food through Monday Church Food Closet, when I heard of something called “Circles”I was intrigued.
I just returned from an orientation and introduction to “Circles”. It was a hands-on experience filled with enough information and inspiration for me to see the potential for our own faith community to be a catalyst in beginning the first steps of an approach toward walking with the poor right here in our area.
The thing that touched, moved and inspired me and made the difference for me is the personal shares of those who have participated in Circles who now are “Champions of Change”. They shared how they personally experienced hope and confidence that their life could be different and how they emerged out of poverty with the support of “allies” who surrounded them and helped them along the way.
Carson City 1st UMC began one of the first pilot programs of Circles in the country six years ago. The Carson City church, made up of middle class people, no longer just does things for the working poor, they actually befriend and walk with poor families in their struggle to break the cycle of poverty.
This circles approach, which depends on allying church folks with poor families over a two to three year period, is proving itself to be one of the most effective approaches in addressing poverty, especially generational poverty.
Pastor Rob Jennings-Teats writes,
“From my own experience with Circles, this is a powerful way for a congregation to really walk with the poor. This is not another hand out, but it is a hand up. This is the most effective way I have seen for chronically poor families to move out of poverty. I hope you will give this some serious thought.”
As Forestville UMC learns more and if our eyes light up over this, the people of Carson City 1st UMC are pre- pared to assist us in beginning. Steve Shaw, employed as their consultant, is willing and eager to bring re- sources and assistance.
Now, after an effective 6 year pilot program, Carson City Capital Circles Initiative is a hands-on training site for training church and community leaders to take the Circles into their own communities. National support, training and curriculum come from NETworX USA.
Even our own annual conference Team on Children and Poverty has taken the initiative to bring Circles to communities in our annual conference.
Because we are a W.O.W. church and the “O” in W.O.W. stands for “Outreach because everyone is important!”, I am inviting and encouraging you to learn more and give this some serious thought.
Stay tuned for more opportunities to do just that!
Your Own in Christ, Pastor Monique-Cheri