April 10, 2013
(Submitted by The Open Table of Christ UMC, Providence, RI)
WHEREAS Jesus’ first reading in the synagogue in Nazareth was from Isaiah: “The spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.” “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” Luke 4: 16b -21; and
WHEREAS Jesus places himself among the poor and outsiders when he tells the righteous: “for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me - Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren you did it to me”. Matthew 25: 35 – 36, 40b; and
WHEREAS Paul writes to the early Christians that we are the body of Christ – “every part dependent on every other part – if one part hurts, every other part is involved in the hurt and in the healing. If one part flourishes, every other part enters into the exuberance.” Corinthians 12:26 – The Messsage, Eugene H. Peterson; and
WHEREAS the roots of Methodism are among the poor of the 18th century, and John Wesley, like Jesus, understood that the poor have a central place in God’s grace; and
WHEREAS our cities are places of diversity, spiritual hunger, poor housing, hunger, unemployment and lacking adequate health care; and
WHEREAS the United Methodist Church is a connectional church and no one congregation can serve the city’s poor alone; and
WHEREAS The Open Table of Christ UMC, located in the inner city of Providence, RI serves over 600 families and 2,000 individuals each month with needed food, clothing, health care, education, recreation, job skill training and empowers its residents through community building, leadership opportunities, and spiritual transformation;
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Open Table of Christ UMC be designated a “Mission Church” by the New England Conference of the United Methodist Church; and
BE IT ALSO RESOLVED that as a Mission Church it shall be relieved of all mandated Mission Shares; and
BE IT ALSO RESOLVED that as a Mission Church it shall be relieved of all mandated Health Insurance Premiums; and
BE IT ALSO RESOLVED that as a Mission Church it shall be relieved of all mandated Pastor Pension expenses; and
BE IT ALSO RESOLVED that as a Mission Church it shall be developed as a regional mission site for the training and service for disciples of the way of Jesus with regard to working with the poor.
Explanation: This resolution, which was approved by the Pastoral Council and the leaders of the Open Table of Christ at an All-Church Meeting, is respectfully submitted with the understanding that by creating strategic mission churches among the poor, the New England Conference of the United Methodist Church will be fulfilling the mission of Jesus. Support for this will be carried out through gifts (spiritual and material), financial support of other local congregations, and through clergy, district and conference resources in ways through which the ministry to the poor can be sustained and empowered.