Living Matthew 25

Coalition of churches, nonprofits, and community groups unite for 25 events during Lent to help the hungry, oppressed, imprisoned, and poor.

SOUTH BEND — A dynamic coalition of area churches, nonprofit organizations, and community groups have come together to present Living Matthew 25, a series of events that offer 25 ways to build community in the South Bend area through learning and serving.

Coordinated by the historic First Presbyterian Church of Downtown South Bend, Living Matthew 25 will include several service projects, a speaker series, a book discussion group, weekly film screenings, a concert, and an art experience all focused on helping build understanding of systemic poverty, structural racism, and how people of faith or goodwill can help those around them.

The project’s name refers to a passage in the Gospel in which Jesus tells his followers to feed the hungry, offer a drink to the thirsty, welcome the stranger, clothe the naked, care for the sick, and visit the imprisoned.

“The goal of these events is to offer an understanding, in a variety of ways, of what Jesus is telling us to do for others,” said Phyllis Wezeman, chair of First Presbyterian’s Outreach Committee and coordinator of Living Matthew 25. “Some people will need to see the message on a movie screen. Others will process it through the written word. Some may realize the impact through art or music and many will use their hands to engage in service.”

First Presbyterian’s leadership on this Lenten series of events is inspired by their pledge to becoming a Matthew 25 congregation in the Presbyterian Church — a commitment to being a church of action and demonstrate love, justice, and mercy through building congregational vitality and community engagement, advocating and acting to dismantle structural racism, and working to change laws and policies to eradicate systemic poverty.

To plan 25 events during the six-and-a-half-week period between Ash Wednesday (March 2) and Easter (April 17), First Presbyterian has built a wide network of partnerships that includes the St. Joseph County Public Library, the University of Notre Dame’s Snite Museum of Art and DeBartolo Performing Arts Center, the Indiana University South Bend Honors Program, Hope Ministries, St. Margaret’s House, the Civil Rights Heritage Center, United Religious Community, Broadway Christian Parish, Christ the King Lutheran Church, Malawi Matters, the Near Northwest Neighborhood Association, and many more.

All events are open and welcome to the public.

“For Christians or non-Christians, this is an opportunity to learn through the heart — to have your heart touched. This is about understanding who around us is in need, and learning how we can be a part of caring for and with them,” said Rev. Dr. Adelia Kelso, pastor of First Presbyterian. “Through one or all of these ways, we hope to make the intangible, tangible. It’s a matter of making the abstract, concrete.”

Living Matthew 25 includes:

5 films

A weekly screening series of films addressing systemic poverty and structural racism. Each movie will be followed by discussion with Notre Dame film experts and local nonprofit advocates.

  • March 7 — Do the Right Thing (1989), directed by Spike Lee
  • March 14 — Minari (2021), directed by Lee Isaac Chung
  • March 21 — If Beale Street Could Talk (2018), directed by Barry Jenkins
  • March 28 — Bread and Roses (2000), directed by Ken Loach
  • April 4 — The Florida Project (2017), directed by Sean Baker

Screenings will take place at 6 p.m. at St. Joseph County Public Library auditorium (304 S. Main St., South Bend).

3 book discussions

Learn more about the history of U.S. civil rights by taking part in a three-session study of Until Justice Be Done by Kate Masur.

March 24 and March 31 at 10am
First Presbyterian Church of Downtown South Bend
333 W. Colfax Ave., South Bend

April 7 at 10am
St. Joseph County Public Library
304 S. Main St., South Bend

2 art experiences

Looking at Matthew 25 Through Art and Photography. Explore artwork featuring the hungry, thirsty, unknown, poor, sick, and imprisoned, all from the Snite Museum’s collections: Snite Museum of Art, Notre Dame

  • Saturday, March 19, 1 to 3 p.m.
  • Thursday, March 24, 5:30 to 7:30 pm.

7 speakers

Freshta Tori Jan.
Afghan refugee, political science/pre-law student, and human rights advocate Freshta Tori Jan discusses her book Courage: My Story of Persecution.
Sunday, March 20, 1 p.m.
First Presbyterian Church of Downtown South Bend
333 W. Colfax Ave., South Bend

An overview and study of Matthew 25 (lunch provided) by Rev. Dr. Adelia Kelso
Sunday, March 6, 11 a.m.
First Presbyterian Church of Downtown South Bend
333 W. Colfax Ave., South Bend

Local nonprofit leaders discuss their work during First Presbyterian’s weekly worship service
9:45 a.m. Sundays, First Presbyterian Church of Downtown South Bend, 333 W. Colfax Ave

  • March 6 — Jill LaFountain, Habitat for Humanity
  • March 13 — Katie Elliott, St. Margaret’s House
  • March 27 – Conrad Damian, Broadway Christian Parish
  • April 3 — Laquisha Jackson, Hope for the Hungry
  • April 10 – Tatiana Botero, South Bend Civic Theatre

1 concert

“The Life of Christ in Spirituals”
Featuring world-renowned opera tenor George Shirley & South Bend’s Mark Beudert
7 p.m. Good Friday, April 15
First Presbyterian Church of Downtown South Bend
333 W. Colfax Ave., South Bend

7 service projects

International Women’s Day “Party with a Purpose”
Enjoy presentations by several nonprofits dedicated to women’s empowerment; buy fair-trade goods made by women artisans; participate in hands-on service projects to help girls in Malawi; and donate pads and tampons for local women’s programs
Tuesday, March 8, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Indiana University South Bend Fireside Room,
1700 E. Mishawaka Avenue, South Bend

Make cards for homebound individuals and residents of local shelters
Sunday, March 13
11 a.m. to noon
First Presbyterian Church of Downtown South Bend
333 W. Colfax Ave., South Bend

Serve dinner at Hope Ministries
5:30 p.m. Monday, March 14 & Monday, April 11
432 S. Lafayette Blvd., South Bend

Collect food for Broadway Christian Parish’s breakfast program
Sunday, March 27
Drop off items between 9:30 a.m. and noon
Broadway Christian Parish
1412 S. Carroll Street, South Bend
First Presbyterian Church
333 W. Colfax Avenue, South Bend

Make Easter Baskets for children at LaSalle Park Homes
Sunday, April 3
11 a.m. to noon
Christ the King Lutheran Church
17195 Cleveland Road, South Bend
First Presbyterian Church
333 W. Colfax Avenue, South Bend

Buy a Book/Give a Book
Meet Phyllis Wezeman, local author of Benjamin Brody’s Backyard Bag, Mama of the Nation, and Petra’s Pier Picnic; buy books on loving others for family, friends, gifts, and to give to local groups and schools – as well as children in Malawi, Africa.
Saturday, April 9
11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Ten Thousand Villages
214 Cleveland Road, Granger

Donate fresh fruit and distribute Easter food boxes with Hope for the Hungry
Sunday, April 10
1 to 3 p.m.
Near Northwest Neighborhood Center
1007 Portage Avenue, South Bend

For more information or to arrange press coverage of any event or the project as a whole, Contact Phyllis Wezeman via email or phone (574) 234-4159.