Harold Phillips, coordinator of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of Missouri, gathered a group of ministers and lay leaders after the June 9th Poverty Summit to discuss practical ministry implications.
“I have no agenda, no ‘plan’ or program on this matter — just a prayer that a church in a community will recognize its own opportunity to become the beacon of hope in a transitioning area and then will allow others of us to walk with them Together for Hope,” he wrote in an e-mail before the event.
Together for Hope is CBF’s commitment to working with people in 20 of the nation’s poorest counties in order to help break the cycle of economic disparity.
The Together for Hope model encourages holistic transformation, Phillips said.
Phillips and Kenny Sherin, a CBF AsYouGo affiliate missionary working with rural poverty, discussed what such a model might look like in Missouri. Sherin suggested the Poverty Summit might be a good place to begin.
“That was really the hope,” Phillips said in an interview after the event. “It was a chance to look at all these other groups and build partners. Rather than the old denominational system where we (CBFMO) start something, we want to find what is already being done and examine how we can help churches.”
The question now, Phillips acknowledged, is, “What’s next?”
“The Summit did a good job laying out the issues; however, knowing the issues is only one-fourth of the way down the road,” Sherin said in an e-mail. “The other three-fourths is doing something.”
Sherin suggested that educating churches on the five pillars is a good place to start. The pillars are “a helpful tool for them to process what they are already doing and look at new ways to become involved,” he said.
That involvement will look different depending on the congregation. “One church might really like growing a community garden and providing fresh veggies to the local people,” he said. “Another church might like helping with schools.”
Phillips said the group that participated in the Summit plans to continue conversation. Others who wish to get involved can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or call the CBFMO office at 816-415-0009.
Jennifer Harris is News Writer for Word&Way.