Sermons, Bible Studies and Liturgies Towards Ending Poverty

Poverty is a moral outrage in our affluent society but some religious institutions and communities have resigned themselves to tolerating it or, at best, managing it. Why? Some of us are simply not aware of the realities of poverty; others may be stunned into silence by their apparent powerlessness to affect change; still others may be exhausted from addressing our own and our community’s endless and immediate needs as poor people. The Kairos Center and Poverty Initiative seeks to equip ourselves and our religious communities with practical skills for preaching and teaching about poverty in local congregations and community organizations, including exploring how to preach about the reality of poverty in our congregation, how to talk about issues of poverty in a diversity of congregations – both affluent and economically struggling congregations, and how to do bible studies using the methodology of “Reading the Bible with the Poor.” The resources below come from seminarians, local pastors, and community leaders who have taken on the challenge of this topic and who are willing to share their experiences – both successes and struggles – in engaging the religious community in a movement to end poverty, led by the poor.

Bible Studies

New Poor People’s Campaign Bible Study Series #1: The Good Samaritan (Luke 10:30-37) | PDF Download |
By Colleen Wessel-McCoy
The Last Week of Jesus Christ and the Last Year of Martin Luther King, Jr.
 |
By Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis
Texts and Images for Reflection on the Economic Crisis | Developed for the March 2009 Poverty Scholars Program Strategic Dialogue
The Genesis of Poverty Facilitators Outline and Text | Interactive Bible Study on Genesis 47
Lessons from History: The last days of Archbishop Oscar Romero, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Jesus Christ | By Rev. Jenn Wilder and Rev. Vanessa Cardinale
Everything Has Its Time: A Lenten Study (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, John 15:9-17, Titus 3) | By Derrick McQueen for St. James Presbyterian Church
The Politics of Christmas and the Roman Empire (Matthew 2:1-5 and Luke 2:46-55) | By Timothy Wotring
Sacred Texts: Our Responsibilities to Others (Excerpts from Torah, Talmud, Qu’ran, and Matthew) | Prepared by Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis

Liturgies and Prayers

A prayer for moral resistance | By Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis.
With All Due Respect, a Potter’s Field Memorial | By Rev. Amy Gopp and Picture the Homeless
The Plight and Fight Poverty Initiative Immersion Chapel Service | By Leslie Jackson, Crystal Hall, Nkosi Anderson, Rev. Thea Reggio, Suzy Ujvagi and Rev. Blair Moorhead, February 8, 2010 in James Chapel at Union Theological Seminary
Let Justice Ring Rap Benediction | By Nkosi Anderson
Prayer for the Coalition of Immokalee Workers’ Fast for Fair Food | By Crystal Hall
Romero Chapel Benediction | By Rosalind Gnatt, From the Union Theological Seminary chapel service commemorating the life and work of Archbishop Oscar Romero
Prayer offered by the Poverty Initiative Trustee Advisory Committee

Sermons

“The God of Secrecy” – Third Sunday after the Epiphany 2017 (Psalm 27) | By Aaron Scott, Preached at Christ Episcopal Church, Seattle WA, on January 22, 2017
Sermon at the Ordination of Emily McNeill (1 Corinthians 1:18-31) | By Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis, Preached at Journey United Church of Christ, Glenmont, NY
Our Will to End Poverty | By Laura Rodgers of Poor Voices United
Ending Poverty Is Possible (John 12:1-8) | By Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis, Preached at First Presbyterian Church, New Canaan, CT
We Can and Must Follow in the Footsteps of Jesus Christ (Luke 4:18, Luke 19:45-47 and James 2:18) | By Willie Baptist, Preached at Church of the Good Shephard in Barre, VT
Post-Immersion Reflection on Genesis 41:19 | By Aaron Scott
Sermon for the Poverty Initiative Leadership School Chapel (Psalm 9:9-20) | By The Rev. Shelly Fayette, Preached at the 2011 Poverty Scholars Program Leadership School, Wilkes-Barre, PA
From the Ashes of Our Hopelessness Rises the Flame of New Hope | By Mitchell Watson, Co-Chair of Poverty Initiative Trustees Advisory Committee, Preached at the 2009 Poverty Scholars Program Leadership School, Camp Virgil Tate, WV
Three Men and a Road (Acts 4:32-35 and Nehemiah 5:1-13) | By Rev. Dan Chadwick
Sermon on the Persistent Widow (Luke 18: 1-5 and Deuteronomy 24:17-18) | By Rev. Jeff Mansfiled
Sermon on a Potter’s Field Memorial Service (Jeremiah 32:1-5) | By Crystal Hall
Re-igniting the Poor People’s Campaign | By Derrick McQueen
Chapel Reflection on Psalm 126:6 | By Rev. Rachel Barnhart
Space for Grace (Isaiah 58:1-7 and Luke 12:49-51) | By Mary Ellen Kris
Sermon on Jeremiah 33 | By Emily McNeill, Preached at First Presbyterian Church in Asheville, NC
Sermon on Jeremiah 33 | By Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis, Preached at First Presbyterian Church in Asheville, NC
The Least of These and Our Shared Future (Matthew 10:40-42) | By Colleen Wessel-McCoy, Preached at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Salem, OR
Labor Day Sermon | By Derrick McQueen
Sermon on Romans 3:9-31 | By Crystal Hall
MLK Day Commemoration | By Rev. Dan Chadwick, Shared at a youth residential treatment program in Erie, PA
Persist to Resist (Job) | By Derrick McQueen, Preached at Upper Montclair Presbyterian Church
Sermon on Psalm 9 | By Crystal Hall, Preached at St. Lydia’s at Trinity Lower East Side Church

Other Resources

Syllabus, Good News from the Poor: Preaching and Bible Study Towards Ending Poverty | A one-day course at Union Theological Seminary, Spring 2011
Lessons from the Field: My Summer at United Workers of Baltimore City | By Onlielove Alston
Notes on the Reading the Bible with the Poor Bible Studies
Interview with Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis on her theology of ministry
Presentation on King’s Poor People’s Campaign | By Onleilove Alston for Habitat for Humanity’s NYC Advocacy Program, Accompanying PowerPoint
Romero Leadership Project | A Study-work Project of the Poverty Scholars Program