january 28, 2021 martha ramos, elder

Eradicate:  tr.v. 1. To tear up by the roots.

2. To get rid of as if by tearing up by the roots: eradicating poverty.

The American Heritage College Dictionary, 2000

As a member of the Matthew 25 working group assigned to the goal of “eradicating systemic poverty”, I have frequently wondered if our goal is the same or different from that of Central’s Mission Committee. If it is different, in what way is it different?  Many members of the church, led by the outstanding Mission Committee, have long been hard at work feeding the hungry, giving water to the thirsty, finding shelter for the homeless, and comforting the sick. (See Matthew 25: 31-46.) What more can we, as one church in Longmont, actually do to eradicate poverty?

  • In search of an answer I turned to the dictionary and found this to be helpful. To eradicate means to get rid of by tearing up the roots. Before we can work on eradicating poverty we need to educate ourselves on the root causes of poverty. This may not be easy. I am reminded of weeding the garden and being faced with pulling up bindweed. Those roots go on forever! But if one is persistent . . . the end is finally out in the open.

    In addition to understanding what eradicate means, it is important to look at the rest of the goal. In its entirety our Matthew 25 goal is to “eradicate systemic poverty by working to change laws, policies, plans and structures in our society that perpetuate exploitation of people who are poor”. This means we must not only tackle the consequences of poverty such as hunger, homelessness, or lack of economic opportunity, but we must tackle the systemwide causes found in institutions such as education, housing, the job market, and the health system, both governmental and private.

    How to achieve our goal may be further understood in the following statement from the PCUSA website.

    How do we eradicate systemic poverty?

           Advocate for better public policies, including job creation, greater empowerment of workers, family-life balance, a quest for greater accuracy of official measurements of household economic well-being, a stronger social safety net, increased social involvement in poorer communities (such as expanded and enriched public schooling), and increased social inclusion and community empowerment as urged by the 220th General Assembly (2012).”

    In order to understand the roots of poverty, as well as to plan what more we as a congregation can do to eradicate poverty, the working group will be presenting information and/or articles periodically in the e-newsletter and published on CENTRALPosts. Please read the information presented with an open mind. You may not agree with everything you read but keep looking for any information that is helpful to your understanding. These will be great points for discussion.

    Martha Ramos, Elder

    (If you would like to be part of the Systemic Poverty Working Group, notify Martha Ramos, Linda Parker, Cheryl Bodin, or Donna Weaver.)


Dave Wasserman, Rev. Dr., HR

Living in Taos, New Mexico

Copyright 2020, David H Wasserman

(Published in Presbyterians for Earth Care 10/15/2020 Newsletter)

If I had to sum up this year of 2020 among the first words that come to mind are: “I can’t breathe”. We have seen and heard too many people utter these words.  I can’t breatheIn May, a Black man from Minneapolis, George Floyd, uttered those words as he was restrained by a police team, with the air literally pressed out of him:  I can’t breathe.

The result was a wave of protests on a massive scale – some violent, most not…that have continued to surge with each new shooting of a Black human being – most by local police. And once more Anglo, White, Euro Americans have been confronted by American’s embedded racism.

I can’t breathe. Words uttered by thousands of people this year being placed on a ventilator, trying to provide enough time for the body to do its healing. . .

  • I can’t breathe. Words uttered by thousands of people this year being placed on a ventilator, trying to provide enough time for the body to do its healing. Think back to January, February and March and the COVID-19 virus that exploded into a global pandemic. Early on, the daily news told stories of those who caught it, avoided, it, survived it, and died from it. Through the summer and fall we’ve watched the virus recede only to surge again, as we wait for a successful vaccine. To date globally (October 13, 2020) over 38.1 million people have contracted the virus and 1,000,000+ have succumbed to it.   

    I can’t breathe. Words spoken by employers and employees alike as businesses were shut down in response to the stay at home, lock the borders, quarantine orders. The economic recession has crushed workers’ bank accounts and dreams, especially those who are part of our small business community. They have gone underwater, or nearly so. And millions more of us have sunk below the poverty level.   Help – I’m drowning.  I can’t…

    I can’t breathe, Planet Earth has been telling us this for decades. And then, in a bit of irony, Earth has been breathing a bit easier this year. The stay at home orders have forced a different lifestyle in which we have been driving less, flying less, using less carbon-based oil and…putting less carbon dioxide into our very thin (62 miles) atmosphere. But with our rush to re-open beaches and businesses, to reward ourselves with unmasked, mass gathering parties, to return to our former “normal”, it won’t last.  Earth’s temperatures keep rising (July was the hottest month ever recorded and September the hottest September on record) and with that we all will have an increasingly difficult time breathing and Earth will keep groaning.

    Rising temperatures have consequences, and not simply about the air we breathe. As Earth’s climate becomes increasingly unstable, both animals and humans will face more and more heat waves, droughts, fires, floods, hurricanes, rising seas, economic crises and frankly, even more pandemics when thousand-year old frozen bacteria will be released as polar ice continues to melt. We’re trapped between responding to today’s crises and anticipating tomorrow’s.  

    Well, the God of Creation has some things to say to us.

    Recognize that the impact of this year has affected us unevenly. The poor, people of color, the marginalized, the sick, the elderly and the young whom we are supposed to protect have suffered the most. Some have lost their lives. 

    Recognize that thinking globally while living locally offers a healing power. There’s a call to use the resources closest to us first, to be satisfied with enough.

    Recognize that Earth is less and less able to absorb the consequences of our excessive, greedy, and short-sighted lifestyles. Quit treating Planet Earth as our hospitality suite and become Earth’s partners for a sustainable future.

    Remember that Life on this planet is not simply about breathing, but about connecting with others. God expects us to respect, learn from, treat fairly all of Life here, to confront our prejudices against other people and other forms of Life…and to change our ways.  The best of this Life focuses primarily on the common good.

    Finally, for those of us who are more fortunate, more secure and have suffered less…there are two God-given charges. First, we with more are called to share more with those who have suffered more.  …with more of our time, energy, ingenuity, financial resources …to ease the pain and offer hope. Second, we with more are called to imagine and build a future that is fairer, more just, and better prepared to face the pain that comes with continued rising temperatures. Educating, Teaching, Planning Ahead. Holding Elected Leaders Accountable for their Actions and their Inaction. 

    What a gift we could give each other if, as we approach the end of this year, we all were making this kind of turning. The result? More and more of us breathing easy.

    Dave Wasserman (Rev.Dr.) Currently serves on the Presbyterians for Earth Care Steering Committee as the Southwest Regional representative.