Our people made the news, yet again, this week. I hope you caught it, though I imagine you might not have immediately connecting the story with Epworth UMC or our legacy.
Timothy Mescon, PhD, President of Columbus State University, wrote a special piece in the Ledger-Enquirer last Thursday. It told about a new initiative rolling out this month in Columbus, and highlighted both the story and the players involved. Read a section of it:
The Circles in Columbus initiative is part of a national movement to end poverty. The National Circles® Campaign is a high-impact community strategy to end poverty one family at a time through intentional relationships built across economic class lines. Columbus is the second site in Georgia to participate in this national movement. Rather than targeting specific needs of low-income people in our community such as housing or job training, Circles in Columbus seeks to expand social capital by fostering and providing a structure for relationships across economic class lines. Circles in Columbus is designed to assist families in creating their own personal paths out of poverty while at the same time expanding opportunities and connections and eliminating barriers in our community that make it difficult for families to thrive.
Circles in Columbus aims to move 10 percent of the current population living in poverty into economic self-sufficiency in 10 years, thus reaching a tipping point toward eradicating poverty in our community. The National Circles model must be implemented on a small scale in a community first and then naturally grow and expand to include a variety of community partners who facilitate Circle Leader Training and feed into Circles in Columbus.
Open Door Community House, a vital United Way partner in Columbus and the Valley, has taken the leadership role in launching the Circles Program. Meg Olive is the gifted coordinator overseeing this essential effort. Read more here.
Did you catch it? Did you catch the Epworth connection? Open Door has agreed, with overwhelming support from its Board of Directors, to take the lead in what could be one of the most important new offerings to the Chattahoochee Valley in our generation. Imagine enough people out of poverty, by their own efforts and relationships that help advise and steer them, that their influence changes the entire community. This is the vision Open Door bought into.
It is also the vision that a little Methodist church bought into about 80 years ago, when it started the ministry that would become Open Door. We owe a huge debt of gratitude to those visionary sisters and brothers. While none of them are still with us today, we do have in our midst folks from Hamp Stevens that brought with them that vision of investing time and resources into the lives of others to make a difference. This is the kind of mission Jesus sent us out into the world to carry out. Every Sunday these who carry the Hamp Stevens UMC DNA into our worship and our classrooms, we are made better. It might not make headlines in the paper, but it is a story I think is worth telling.
Grace and Peace, Scott