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Off The Pews May Update

As a social justice ministry, our comings and goings have been curtailed by the deadly coronavirus Pandemic. All programs have been cancelled until further notice. The downside of this is the disruption of our ability to interact with you. Like the rest of world, we were not prepared to immediately shift to a virtual platform. However, since this event, we have started to identify ways to integrate face-to-face and virtual platforms to meet our program mission. Thus, even in the face of life-threatening events, over which we have little to no control, we will be able to reach out and virtually touch those we serve.

In the meantime, we continue to plan and collaborate with our community partners to identify ways to safely resume programs. One example of this is a youth-focused virtual summer program. If necessary, it will include an indoor garden at each youth’s home. The master gardener will be the person who has responsibility for oversight for Canaan Community Church’s garden. Their Five Loaves Food Co-op is known for feeding the people in Englewood at affordable cost.


Also planned are art and financial literacy components. The plan is to offer both virtual and face-to-face aspects. We will limit the number of participants this year to 10 to allow the possibility of an outdoor experience. This program is planned for August 2020. If this proves to not be feasible, the entire program can be taught via a virtual platform.

The youths will be referred by: OTP, Sunshine Gospel Ministry, and Five Loaves summer 2020 program. Over the five years OTP’s organic gardening program has been offered, it has made an increasing impact on church planted gardens in several of the target areas that have chosen to participate, e.g., Canaan Community Church, Church of the Good Shepherd, South Shore Community Church, and the Congregational Church of Park Manor. The number of youth gardeners has varied from five to 25 depending on church interest, availability of adult supervisors, and OTP funding capacity. For the past five years the youth gardeners were paid a stipend for their work. The goal is for the participants, e.g., older adults and youths to have a direct experience with earning, learning, saving and sharing. We are after a social impact on poverty, racism, and undertreated mental and physical health.

Please note that we have not forgotten the equally valuable older adults who are on the other end of OTP’s intergenerational spectrum. That programing will resume in late summer. The next workshop is tentatively entitled: The Muse and Crone. This a third workshop in the planned series on Crones—wise older women. We had 35 women attend the first one and an equal number who attended the second one offered as a workshop held at The Chicago Theological Seminary. The second one included four men! While the word Crone is usually perceived as a negative, there are those who embrace it as descriptive in its referencing a wise older person.

We would appreciate hearing what you are interested in participating in as we together create this “new normal.” Also share with OTP how you think we are doing as a social justice ministry.

Please email offthepews@gmail.com to share your feedback or be contacted for participation in upcoming events. You can also fill out our Stay Connected form to be added to our email list for OTP newsletters and blog updates.

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