Series on faith and poverty starts Saturday

By Tammy Keith Originally Published March 7, 2013 at 11:12 a.m.
Updated March 7, 2013 at 11:12 a.m.
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Phillip Fletcher started City of Hope Outreach several years ago in Oakwood Village mobile home park in Conway to preach the Gospel and address the needs of the poor.

“Poverty is really a whole thing,” Fletcher said. “I think when people hear poor, they just think lack of money. It’s social, it’s economic, it’s political, it’s religious.”

The nonprofit outreach organization in Conway is sponsoring a lecture series titled Faith and Poverty.

It will begin at 10 a.m. Saturday at the Hope Institute, 608 E. Robins St., with Aaron New of Central Baptist College in Conway. He is associate professor of psychology and counseling and chair of the behavioral sciences department at CBC.

Prior to his job at CBC, New worked for almost 10 years in the social-service field, primarily in mental-health outpatient clinics and long-term residential-care facilities.

Fletcher said the idea of the series is to bring in people “on the academic side who have thought and written on the issue.”

“It’s for the general public, but we’re specifically trying to reach out to individuals who try to think of different solutions regarding poverty,” Fletcher said.

He said the lecture series is geared toward people who work in churches or nonprofit organizations, college-age students and professors “who deal with poverty, counseling,

economics and ethics.”

Fletcher said the idea for the event grew out of a God, Gospel and Poverty class sponsored by City of Hope Outreach.

“We try to look for a holistic manner to assist somebody in poverty — how you budget your money; what your relationship with your children is like — all those things factor in helping someone in poverty and hopefully moving out of poverty and moving into a different economic class,” Fletcher said.

“We decided to stretch it out more and invite some professors to come in and teach.”

He said the goal of the Faith and Poverty series is to “stimulate discussion” about poverty.

“Poverty is, like I said — it’s more than money. It is a personal experience. It’s a poverty of economics. It’s a poverty of how we live socially, between neighbors — poverty that just exists in policy,” Fletcher said.

“When you address all those areas, including the person himself or herself, that’s when you’re really addressing poverty,” Fletcher said.

Groups are working to help people in poverty, and others are “thinking about it and writing about it and want a more theoretical approach,” Fletcher said.

“We want to bridge that gap between practice and theory,” he said.

The next installment in the series will be Economics and Gentrification on April 20 by Victor Claar, professor of economics at Henderson State University.

Ethics and Poverty will be presented Oct. 26 by Charlie Mooney, senior high school Bible teacher and dean of students at Conway Christian School.

A United for the City conference will be held in August.

The cost of the series is $10 per lecture, and proceeds will benefit Oakwood Learning Academy, which provides tutoring in math and literacy and includes community-service projects.

For more information, go to www.cityhopeoutreach.com, or contact Cory Nelson, director of the Hope Institute, at (501) 205-1614.

Senior writer Tammy Keith can be reached at (501) 327-0370 or tkeith@arkansasonline.com.

Niche Publications Senior Writer Tammy Keith can be reached at 501-327-0370 or tkeith@arkansasonline.com.

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