Being a Matthew 25 Church in 2023 Part Two
April 23, 2023, 12:00 AM

Being a Matthew 25 Church in 2023

Part Two

Last month’s article was Part One where we presented what it meant for us to be a Matthew 25 Church. Matthew 25: 31-46 calls each of us to take care of those who are in need in our community and beyond. Below is what has happened since 2019 and where we are today.

2019: Session formed a committee to determine if we wanted to be a Matthew 25 church. Not much was done as we mostly talked about hunger in our community.

2020: With the killing of George Floyd on May 25, and Pastor Randy’s sermon with Carolyn Bolin in June, our Session committee decided after several meetings to upgrade to a Session Matthew 25 Task Force.  Carolyn listed what we whites could do to educate ourselves about what is going on every day regarding racial injustice and inequality.  We took that to heart and decided to participate in PC(USA)’s Matthew 25 program of dismantling structural racism.  

The Task Force consisted of elders Nanette Wehe, Bob Beebe, Kim Kraft, Stan Husted, and Pastor Randy.  Several of us enrolled in the San Francisco Presbytery classes and webinars on racism. We began reading books on Carolyn’s list of books dealing with educating white people on bias and prejudice concerning people of color, two of which are in the church office for loan.

Matthew 25 articles in the monthly newsletter included the white person’s journey of self-awareness of inherent bias and prejudice, white privilege, whiteness, and color blindness. The intent was to open hearts and minds to what white people in our congregation can do as individuals and as a church in serving God.

2021: Session voted unanimously on March 9, 2021, for us to become a Matthew 25 church and continue our focus and energies on dismantling structural racism. We understood the awareness journey ahead for our congregation would be a long one.  We became a Matthew 25 church to make a commitment to stay on this very important journey of learning and awareness.  

As in 2020, our objectives included educating ourselves on racism, increasing the awareness of our white members in our unknowing roles in perpetuating racism, studying the Bible for God’s direction and inspiration during our journey, and sharing what we learn by writing articles in the newsletter. 

With Bob Beebe finishing his term on Session, Elder Terry Han agreed to join our Task Force.

Our Matthew 25 topics for the JKPC newsletter included becoming an ally with people of color, the five D’s of bystander intervention to stop Anti-Asian/American harassment, Terry Han’s personal story of the challenges of being Asian/American, Presbyterian Kathy Leong’s experiences as an Asian/American dealing with color blindness, celebrating Hispanic and Native American Heritage Months.

Thanks to Nanette Wehe, during a November worship service, we had African-American Don Lewis as our guest musician.  The joy and excitement of praising God through Don’s music brought to those of us in the sanctuary a sense of God’s presence in each of us.

2022:  The Task Force read and discussed the book, Filled to Be Emptied by Brandon J. Robertson. He challenged white Christians to follow Jesus’ example and dedicate themselves to servitude to those in need.  Respect them and do something to help them.

A newsletter article helped us to know members Niro, Eshari, and Shemara Wijesekera who are originally from Sri Lanka and now live in Pleasanton.  Eshari is an amazing deacon, and Niro blesses us during worship services as part of the sound system team.

Other topics were the following: Respect others, regardless of their ethnicity, and honor their culture and the challenges they have faced; selected lines of the thought provoking poems by Amanda Gordon in her book of poems, Call Us What We Carry.