Eastern Pennsylvania Conference United Methodist Church
Church and Society Work Team

Workshops and Seminars for the Local Church

The Church and Society Work Team offers several workshops which address issues of concern to Pennsylvania United Methodists. Please contact us for additional information about workshops and resource materials described below. We may also be able to help identify resources or workshop leaders for other topics which relate to United Methodist Social Principles and community concerns.

Scheduling: It is recommended that presentations be scheduled at least two months in advance, especially for the extended workshops of two hours or more. There are modest costs associated with some of these workshops, such as duplication of worksheets or video rentals, but most workshops are presented by volunteers, and financial assistance for workshop expenses can usually be arranged if needed.

| Introduction | Gambling | Mental Illness | UM Witness | Affluenza / Economic Issues | Violence / Criminal Justice |


State-sponsored gambling and professional gaming operations have increased rapidly throughout the U.S. in recent years, with an accompanying increase in gambling addiction, crime, and related problems. United Methodists in Pennsylvania are taking a major role in opposing gambling expansion. Learn about the consequences of legalized gambling and how your congregation can be involved in challenging the gambling industry.

Mental Illness

(3 hrs. minimum is recommended for full workshop; shorter presentations may be arranged )
Among those who suffer from severe mental illness are people of all different occupations and professions. What are the various forms of mental illness? What treatments are effective? How can churches be supportive of people with mental illness and their families?

A United Methodist Witness in Pennsylvania

Witness is the effective voice for United Methodist political advocacy in the Pennsylvania state government. In March, 1999, a major piece of gambling legislation was defeated in the Pennsylvania Senate, due in part to the efforts of United Methodists, including Bishop Peter Weaver. United Methodist Witness staff members are available to speak with groups about the legislative process in Pennsylvania and how United Methodists can participate in effect political advocacy on issues that are reflected in our Social Principles.

UMWitness: http://www.cpcumc.org/umwitness

Stewardship / Economics

The following workshops look at contemporary economic issues from the perspective of Wesleyan theology and our Biblical tradition. The workshops use a variety of group exercises, as well as lecture-discussion segments, and sometimes short video presentations. The minimum recommend workshop time is given in parentheses; preparatory reading can be provided for most workshops, if desired. A two-hour workshop can usually be translated to a series of three one-hour sessions. (Shorter presentations on some of these topics may also be arranged--but in lecture or sermon format, rather than a workshop.)

The Church and Working People (2 hrs)
John Wesley began his ministry among working class people for whom the Church of England had little regard. What does our faith tradition have to say about the church and working people? How should the church relate to workers and labor organizations today?

Curing Affluenza (at least 6 one-hour sessions or equivalent)
"Affluenza" is the American epidemic of shopping, over-work, debt, and the pursuit of more money. The cure begins with a critical examination of individual and community lifestyle choices. The Bible provides a lens for the self-examination of our habits and thinking about lifestyle, money, time, and possessions.

The Growing Divide (2 hrs)
This is an introductory workshop on basic economic issues in America, including examination of the rapidly growing concentration of wealth among a small number of Americans, and the influence of big money on public policy. The context for this workshop is the extensive Biblical discussion of economic issues in both Old and New Testaments.

The Global Economy for Beginners (2 hrs)
Global trade and investment policies that spell out the rights of coporations and investors often appear to ignore the rights of workers, communities, and the environment. What are the GATT, the MAI, the IMF, and the WTO, and how do they affect us and our communities? (The Growing Divide workshop is recommended as a prerequisite.)

Corporations in our Lives (2 hrs)
Major coporations are often accused of environmental polution, producing unsafe products, and buying political influence, but corporations also provide jobs and contribute to community programs and services. What is the appropriate role for corporations in a democratic society? (The Growing Divide workshop is recommended as a prerequisite.)

U.S. Tax Policy -- What's Fair? (2 hrs)
There are many proposals for changes in U.S. tax system--including Flat Tax, Simplified Progressive Tax, National Sales Tax, Capital Gains Tax, Estate Tax, and No Taxes. What are these various proposals, and whom do they benefit? How are decisions about taxes related to our faith tradition?

Jubilee 2000 (1-2 hr)
United Methodist agencies are among the many organizations calling for celebration of the Jubilee prescribed in Old Testament law and proclaimed at the outset of Jesus' ministry (Luke 4:19). This workshop explores the Biblical tradition and its contemporary interpretation, including a call for the forgivenes of Third World debt.

Restorative Justice

The 1.8 million people in U.S. prisions (one of every 145 people in the U.S.) is expected to exceed the incarceration rate of every other nation in the world by year's end, and requires enormous public expense. Why is our prison population so large, and what are the alternatives? Restorative justice is based on the Biblical concept of reconciliation.

Breaking the Cycle of Violence in America

What do Iraq and Yugoslavia have in common with American schools and the School of the Americas? Is it surprising that violence inevitably breeds more violence? This workshop explores how and why active non-violence is necessary to break the cycle of violence.
You may contact the Church and Society Work Team by phone, mail, or E-mail:
Robert Walden
826 Tioga Avenue, Bethlehem, PA 18018


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Created: 5/9/99
Last Updated: 5/9/99