Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 8/10/2016 (1073 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Biology is a natural science concerned with the study of life and living organisms.
Psychology is the study of behaviour and mind.
Theology is the study of the nature of God and religious belief.
Povology is — well, just what the heck is povology, anyway?
According to Kevin Wiebe, a Mennonite pastor in Tilsbury, Ont., povology is about "ways Christians can look at poverty through a theological lens.
At the same time, it is a way to explore the "the intersection of Christian faith and charity, and the way the Bible informs our response to poverty."
Povology is also a new video series about the church and poverty being produced by Wiebe, 29, pastor of New Life Mennonite Fellowship in the southwest Ontario town.
Wiebe and his wife, Emily, came up with the word and the idea for the series when their church began asking about its role in alleviating poverty.
"We wondered what was the best way to use our resources, and what was the church’s role in addressing poverty," he says of the discussions.
"We asked ourselves what Jesus did to help the poor, and whether churches today are doing more harm than good," when addressing poverty.
The video series, to be released in 2017, will feature interviews with Christians who have wrestled with the issue, including American anti-poverty activist Shane Claiborne; Rich Sider, author of the book Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger; and Bruxey Cavey, pastor of the Meetinghouse church in Ontario.
Also included are Winnipeggers such as singer-songwriter Steve Bell, Kyle Mason of the North End Family Centre and Ray Vander Zaag, who teaches international development at Canadian Mennonite University.
"I’m young — I don’t have all the answers," says Wiebe of the decision to interview people who are working or thinking about the issue of faith and poverty.
"But there are people who have good ideas in this area, people who know what the issues are, what questions we should be asking."
Wiebe hopes the series will show churches how they can be "actively involved in alleviating poverty in the communities where we live, and beyond."
This includes building relationships, with people who are poor, "not just sending money to charities."
It also includes studying and learning about the roots and challenges of poverty, he says.
Wiebe notes that, in the Bible, "Jesus spent a remarkable amount of time talking about poverty. And he didn’t just talk about it — he hung out with poor people, he spent a lot of time with them."
If Christians want to be like Jesus, he says, "then we need to take this seriously."
Looking back at how churches have responded to poverty in Canada and overseas over the decades, Wiebe acknowledges there have been "some major failures." But, he says, "there have also been many successes" — most recently like how so many churches responded generously to the needs of Syrian refugees.
And yet, he says, Canadian churches could do better. Noting the large number of people who are poor in this country, Wiebe says, "We aren’t, as a church, doing as good a job as we could… We need to do more than just talk about these things."
In the promotional video for the series, Claiborne, the American activist, says "God’s concern for the poor, the stranger, the refugee, the immigrant, those who are outside… is incredibly consistent throughout scripture."
Says Bell: "God’s solidarity with the poor is so evident right from the beginning, it just ripples and permeates all of scripture. It’s relentless all the way through."
Adds Mason of the North End Family Centre, "If we call ourselves Christians, then we should follow our leader, our example."
Wiebe hopes the video series, which he is self-financing, will be an opportunity for Christians to "think more about the link between their faith and poverty, and to make the gap between what we believe and what we do as small as possible."
As for the word povology itself, he acknowledges that "it’s not a real word. At least, he says, not yet.
For more information, visit www.povology.com.
John Longhurst has been writing for Winnipeg's faith pages since 2003. He also writes for Religion News Service in the U.S., and blogs about the media, marketing and communications at Making the News.
The Free Press acknowledges the financial support it receives from members of the city’s faith community, which makes our coverage of religion possible.