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A Matter of Faith: A Presby Podcast
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A Matter of Faith: A Presby Podcast

Author: Simon Doong and Lee Catoe

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Welcome to A Matter of Faith: A Presby Podcast, the podcast where we respond to your questions and comments on issues of faith, social justice and church life. Don't be afraid to write in and ask your question because if it matters to you, it matters to us and it just might be a matter of faith. Whether it be faith in God, faith in others or faith in yourself. We are brought to you by the Presbyterian Peacemaking Program and Unbound: An Interactive Journal on Christian Social Justice for the Presbyterian Church (USA). Submit questions to
30 Episodes
Questions for the Week:Recently, a law was passed in Texas banning most abortions as early as six weeks of pregnancy. I know abortion is a politically divisive subject. What are your thoughts on how to understand this law and why it is (or is not) troubling? This past weekend, we remembered the events of 9/11. Each of us has our own memories and experiences with regards to this tragedy. What are some of yours? | Special Guest:Melonee Tubb, Associate, Financial Aid for Service, Theology, Formation & Evangelism, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)Guest Question:Why is it important for the church to address issues of educational and student debt? How is it a faith issue? Further, what opportunities are there to seek debt assistance through the PC(USA)?Resource Roundup: Application for Loan Assistance for Pastors from Mission AgencyApplication for Season of Service Loan Assistance from the Mission AgencyUp to date information on the Department of Education’s Covid policiesNational Student Loan Data System- Go here to find all your federal loan information in one place. Application for Income Based RepaymentInformation on Public Service Loan Forgiveness
Questions for the Week:Recently, it was announced that the popular video game Fortnite would provide an opportunity for players to relive Martin Luther King Jr.'s iconic "I Have a Dream" speech. I don't know how to feel about this. There is a lot of skepticism and questions surrounding this decision. What are your thoughts? Is this honoring Dr. King's work and legacy? Or is it appropriation?There are multiple film and Hollywood adaptations of Biblical stories. Do you have any that you recommend and why?Special Guest:Rich Copley, Communications Strategist, Presbyterian Mission AgencyGuest Question:In a time of polarization and heavy digital/social media use, there is a lot of "fake news" and "clickbait" headlines. How do we, as people of faith, who are called to seek truth, distinguish real news from fake news, fact from opinion, and good journalism from bad? I think good reporting/journalism will report facts accurately but is allowed to provide discussion to encourage readers to walk away with a lesson from the story or consider the story from a new perspective. But some reporting doesn't even seem to establish facts before forcing an opinion down the reader's throat. What are your thoughts? How do we be informed readers/consumers of news and journalism? | Resource Roundup:Presbyterian Disaster Assistance Relief Efforts in HaitiRev. Edwin González-Castillo, Associate for Disaster Response in Latin America & the Caribbean, Presbyterian Disaster Assistance
Questions for the Week: What are different ways that you've seen faith incorporated into a wedding service? / Do you believe in "the one true love"?Special Guests: Rev. Dr. Wanda M. Lundy, Assistant Professor of World Christianity, Director of Mentoring for Thriving in Ministry in the City (MTMC) and Director of the Eleanor Moody-Shepherd Resource Center for Women of Faith at New York Theological Seminary, & Pastor at Siloam-Hope First Presbyterian ChurchRev. Edwin González-Castillo, Associate for Disaster Response in Latin America & the Caribbean, Presbyterian Disaster AssistanceGuest Question:I am a leader of a faith-based organization and looking to re-orient our organization’s practices and policies (internally and externally) to better align with our progressive Christian values and recent events such as the #MeToo Movement, Black Lives Matter protests, and an increasing sense of global connectedness. Are there others who have tried to plan and implement similar changes in their organization? What guidance do you have?Resource Roundup:Path of Peace ReflectionsSubscribe to receive all the ReflectionsWatch the Video ReflectionsRead the Written ReflectionsTranslations: 54:33: Rev. Lee, Hun-sam (Pastor, Junim Presbyterian Church, Seongnam, Korea)“Because of the Joint South-North (North-South) Prayer for Peace & Reunification on the Korean Peninsula, representatives of the South Korean and the North Korean churches meet in person, transcending their disconnection [through division].” 55:15: Jeong Seon-nyeo (Leader, Gangjeong Mission Station of the Catholic Church & Peace Activist in Gangjeong Village, South Korea)“But because consistency is very important for our peaceful protest in Gangjeong Village, we try to exercise patience, and make sure the dances and other protest activities continue, even when it is hard.”
Questions for the Week:A recent Washington Post article describes how teens around the world are lonelier than a decade ago and the reason may be smartphones. What are your thoughts on this? Regardless of whether smartphones are part of the problem or not, how do we provide spaces that help people not feel lonely?Let's talk about life transitions. What are some transitions that you have experienced in your life and what helped you through them?Special Guest:Rev. Dr. Wanda M. Lundy, Assistant Professor of World Christianity, Director of Mentoring for Thriving in Ministry in the City (MTMC) and Director of the Eleanor Moody-Shepherd Resource Center for Women of Faith at New York Theological Seminary, & Pastor at Siloam-Hope First Presbyterian ChurchGuest Question:What are the unique challenges of urban/city ministry compared to suburban/rural ministry? What are the unique opportunities/blessings of urban ministry?Resource Roundup:Mentoring for Thriving in the City (MTMC) at New York Theological Seminary
Questions for the Week:The CDC has recently recommended that people resume wearing masks indoors again, even if you are vaccinated. How do we help folks process this change? Further, as COVID cases surge, it can be easy to blame the unvaccinated. As people of faith, how do we help people avoid "blame" but still push for change?I've been wondering about the significance and meaning of church membership for our denomination. People keep talking about declining membership in our congregations. Maybe it’s our definition and understanding of membership that needs to change. What do you think?Special Guest:Timothy Wotring, Pastor, Memorial Presbyterian Church of Fox ChaseGuest Question:I am about to start my first call as pastor to a congregation. My question is for folks who are about a year or so into their first call: Looking back on your first year as an ordained pastor serving a congregation, what guidance or advice would you give to someone who is just about to start their first call?Resource Roundup:Presbyterian Week of Action with Rev. Shanea Leonard, Associate for Gender, Race, and Intercultural Justice for the PC(USA)
Questions for the Week:In the women's Olympics gymnastics competition, Simone Biles withdrew from the team competition after struggling on a vault. But the reason was not due to physical injury. Biles stated it was for her own mental health. You have talked about both sports and mental health before on the podcast. What do you think we, as people of faith, can learn from Simone Biles' example?I don't know how to feel about Jeff Bezos' (the CEO of Amazon) trip to space in late July. On the one hand, it is kind of cool. On the other, there are better ways that the money used to pay for this short space trip could hve been spent. Thoughts?Special Guest:Bong Bringas, Commissioned Lay Pastor, San Marino Community ChurchGuest Question:I am a person of color and about to begin a leadership role in a majority white congregation. For other people who have been in this position, what has your experience been like as a person of color and a leader in a church that is majority white? Do you have any guidance for working in these contexts?Resource Roundup:Trigger: The Ripple Effect of Gun Violence
Questions for the Week:What are your thoughts on pets (particularly dogs) being allowed in church, particularly the sanctuary?As we approach the Tokyo Olympics, there have been a number of interesting developments. Sprinter Sha'Carri Richardson, who won the US Olympic trials in the 100 meters, was banned for one month after testing positive for a chemical found in marijuana, which is a banned substance for Olympic athletes. This means she can't compete in this year's Olympic games in the 100m dash. She says the stress of her biological mother's recent death combined with the pressure of preparing for the trials led her to use the drug. Many people have spoken up that the rule that makes marijuana a banned substance is outdated and should be changed. As people of faith, how do we wrestle with rules that should be changed?Special Guest:Ekama Eni, Pastor of Youth and College Ministry at St. Paul & St. Andrew United Methodist ChurchGuest Question:I'm considering a "no phone" policy during our church's youth group gatherings. Everyone puts their phone on silent and doesn't take it out during the meeting or we all put our phones in a basket at the beginning of our time together and then get them back at the end. Is this a good idea? Or are the youth going to stop coming if we do this?Resource Roundup:Queerfully and Wonderfully Made
Questions for the Week:What is your experience dating as a church leader/person of faith who is active in the church? What is some of the best and worst advice you've ever received from someone in church? Special Guest:Rev. Dr. Gregory Simpson, Pastor at Nauraushaun Presbyterian Church, Chair of the Environmental & Climate Change Sub-committee of MRTIGuest Question:How can we as a society simultaneously work to address issues of global climate change that do not exacerbate or perpetuate other issues and inequalities such as poverty and access to resources? How can this be done in a way that builds community, instead of simply looking for a "quick and easy solution" that disregards potential consequences?Resource Roundup:The Climate Reality ProjectWE ACTWhite House Environmental Justice Advisory Council
Questions for the Week:What is your definition of "success"? How do you think the Christian definition of success differs from the secular definition?Sundays are supposed to be "the Lord's day" in which you take a rest and do no work. I've always found this interesting because everyone "rests" in different ways. Further, in the current context in which many people work from home, they may end up working some on Sunday. What are ways that you are able to "rest"? And what really qualifies as "rest"?Special Guest:Rev. Sandra Moon, Licensed Attorney & Director of Admissions at Louisville Presbyterian Theological SeminaryGuest Question:How do you understand the relationship between the Bible, faith, and the law?Resource Roundup:Lousiville Presbyterian Theological Seminary
Questions for the Week:I was confirmed recently in my local Presbyterian Church and have become a member. Suddenly, I am on all of these email lists, being asked to help with things, and biggest of all - being asked how much money I pledge to give over the next year. I'm only in high school. I'd love to give, but honestly don't have much money. How much should I be giving? Are there suggestions for other ways I can contribute? What are your thoughts on tattoos? Can Christians have tattoos? What do you think about the use of Christian imagery in tattoos?Special Guest:Laurie Kraus, Director, Presbyterian Disaster AssistanceGuest Question:In the aftermath of natural disasters (or human caused disasters, such as mass shootings), how can I best walk alongside those affected in my community as they mourn, grieve, and try to move forward? Is there something specific that I can offer them as a person of faith?Resource Roundup:Recovering from Un-Natural Disasters: A Guide for Pastors and Congregations after Violence and TraumaPresbyterian Disaster Assistance
Questions for the Week:What is one subject/topic that is not taught in schools that you think should? If you could meet any person/figure from the Bible, who would it be and why? Special Guest:Jeffrey Arnold, Executive Director, Association for Presbyterian Colleges and UniversitiesGuest Question:I've heard about colleges and universities being associated with specific religious denominations. What does it mean for a college to be associated with the Presbyterian church? What does it mean in terms of the education students get and the approach that schools take?Resource Roundup:Presbyterian Scholarships for Undergraduate StudentsPCUSA Parent Loan Program
Questions for the Week:My question relates to July 4th and worship. What role does patriotic music and symbols of America (i.e. the Flag) have in our worship? At what point does praise for our nation become idolatry? With Independence day on a Sunday this year this issue seems to be even more in your face than usual. Special Guest:Jimmie Hawkins, Director, Office of Public WitnessGuest Question:Also, in the wake of the attack on the capitol on January 6th, has the flag become a symbol of terror?Resource Roundup:Honest Patriotism
This week, we got a lot of questions about faith based investing! We invited our friends from the Mission Responsibility Through Investment Committee to join us on the podcast!Special Guests:Kerri AllenChair of MRTI, and Representative of the Advisory Committee for Women's Concerns  Rob FohrDirector of Faith-Based Investing and Corporate Engagement & Lead Staff Person for the Committee on Mission Responsibility Through Investment (MRTI)Guest Questions:Why does the PCUSA engage the companies in which it owns stock?How does the way that PCUSA engages companies and communities reflect our Presbyterian values?How does the PCUSA’s process/approach compare to other faith-based investors?What are some of the common myths or misperceptions about MRTI, faith-based investing, and/or divestment? Resource Roundup:Committee on Mission Responsibility Through Investment (MRTI)Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR)General Assembly Divestment/Proscription List*Proxy Voting Recommendations**for the latest guidelines please check theMRTI website
Questions for the Week:What are your thoughts on using name tags at church? I know that it is meant to make it easier for visitors feel like they can talk to members, but I'm not sure how I feel about them. My church is a bit behind the times in terms of technology and communications. We have a Facebook page and a barebones website. How do we increase our social media presence, particularly with limited resources?Guest:David LaMotte, Author, Singer & Songwriter Guest Question:I see people in my community and my church who are troubled by various injustices that we see in the world. But I feel like they're also all waiting for someone to come along who has that "special" gift to get changes started and get things moving, and then they'll do something. Am I the only one observing this? And is this the correct approach? Further, I'm a young person who is constantly told to "wait" until I have my skills and my life figured out to participate in any cause for justice. But I don't want to wait. Am I just being impatient?Resource Roundup: JuneteenthJuneteenthPC(USA) Anti-Racism ResourcesBelhar Confession 
Questions for the Week: There was a recent Buzzfeed article describing Millennials as the "burnout generation". As millennials yourselves, what do you think? Did anything in this article resonate with you? If so, how has your church and faith community helped you manage burnout? What do you think it means to be a "man of faith" in today's world? Special Guest:Rebecca Barnes, Coordinator, Presbyterian Hunger ProgramGuest Question:Is becoming a vegan the best way for someone to reduce their carbon footprint and not contribute to climate change and environmental degradation? I understand the desire and commitment, but I'm not sure I agree with the attitude towards others that some vegans adopt. Are there alternative ways for me to change my lifestyle, particularly as a person of faith?Resource Roundup:w/ Jennifer Evans, Program Assistant for Partner Grants and Communications2020 PHP Impact Report Presbyterian Hunger Program Post
A Matter of Faith: A Presby Podcast celebrates Pride 2021! Special Guests: Shelley Donaldson (she|her)Associate Pastor, First Presbyterian Church of Stamford, CTShanea Leonard (they|them)Associate for Gender & Racial Justice, Presbyterian Mission Agency Guest Questions: What does it mean to be a queer person in the church? What do I do when a young person comes out to me? How do I respond in a way that’s helpful rather than creating additional problems? How do I help them navigate our church community, which is generally inclusive and affirming, there are some who are not?Resource Roundup:Office of Gender and Racial JusticeA Quick and Easy Guide to They/Them PronounsQueerfully and Wonderfully MadeWelcoming and Affirming: A Guide to Working with LGBTQ+ Christian YouthShelley's Resource ListPC(USA) Pride CalendarShanea's Pronoun Article
Questions for the Week:As COVID is coming to some sort of end (or, at least, we're acting like it is), I'm finding that I haven't really processed a single darn second of the past 14 months. Case in point: I was listening to an ESPN ""30 for 30"" podcast about when the NBA shutdown for the season on March 11, 2020.  I'm not a big NBA fan but listening to this podcast I nearly start crying. That's when I realized: throughout the pandemic all I was doing was learning, communicating, and making decisions - hundreds and hundreds of decisions. I wasn't actually processing any of it. I was surviving well, but that's it. I'm proud of those survival instincts, but am now lamenting that I never felt the time or space to process in real time (if that's even possible for something like a pandemic).  Has anyone else had this experience of realizing you haven’t process anything until it came crashing in at an unexpected moment? Second, if this is going to be part of our shared COVID experience, then what does it mean for ministry?What are your thoughts on stained glass windows?Special Guest:Carl Horton, Coordinator, Presbyterian Peacemaking Program   Guest Question: What are some tips for addressing/navigating conflict in the church? Resource Roundup:Seeking to be Faithful Together: Guidelines for Presbyterians in Times of Disagreement
Questions for the Week: Have you ever watched a movie or TV show or played a game that unexpectedly challenged how you understand issues of faith and/or justice? I'm not talking about things that are specifically about faith or religion, rather a piece media or art that was focused on something else but ending up touching you or challenging you in some way.Do you have a favorite translation of the Bible? What is it and why?Special Guest:Kathy Riley, Associate for Emotional and Spiritual Care, Presbyterian Disaster Assistance Guest Question:Do you have any strategies for dealing with anxiety and mental health challenges related to natural or human caused disasters? (ie. hurricanes, gun violence, etc) Are there strategies that are specifically useful for people of faith? Resource Roundup:PCUSA Mental Health MinistriesPresbyterian Mental Health Network (PMHN) Presbyterian Disaster Assistance Emotional & Spiritual Care Offerings
Questions for the Week: What is an experience that you had which either deepened your faith or gave you a new perspective on God, faith or church? Why are both church and football on Sundays? If Sunday is a day of rest, how can players play on that day? Or is it because watching football is "rest" for everyone else? Special Guest: Vilmarie Cintrón-Olivieri, Educator, Ruling Elder & Past Co-Moderator of the 223rd General Assembly Guest Question: What do we mean when we say the PC(USA) is a “connectional” church? What does the term "connectional" mean?Resource Roundup: Queering the Family Series with More Light Presbyterians and Unbound
Questions for the Week: Is there a real "dress code" for church? I was raised with the perspective that "you can never be too dressed up for church", but I know that's not true everywhere. In fact, if you are dressed up a lot more than everyone else, I think it’s just as weird as being the only one not dressed up. What have your experiences been like?Some people criticize the PCUSA as being a "SJW (social justice warrior), left-wing political party". Where does this criticism come from? Is there any validity to it?Special Guest:Jessica Maudlin, Associate for Sustainable Living and Earth Care, Presbyterian Hunger ProgramGuest Question:Our congregation cares about climate change and wants to start implementing environmentally conscious practices and incorporating these themes into our worship services. Where should we start? | Resource Roundup: Climate Care ChallengeConsidering our Treasure: A look at Luke 12:34 for Presbyterians as they engage a life of faith by helping individuals assess where your “treasure” is and where it is being spent. Blessed Tomorrow: Let’s Talk, Moving Forward and 15 Steps
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