THE INTERFAITH EDITION

 

The Interfaith Edition of Just Neighbors is a nine-session, interactive, multi-media exploration of a religious principle at the heart of all major religious traditions: "Love your neighbor as yourself."

 

What responsibilities do we have and what actions are called for, when our neighbors don't have the necessities to live lives of dignity? Do we turn our backs and ignore them, or deny the reality they face? Do we blame them? Or, do we offer them a hand up? Do we share our resources with them? Do we try to address the causes of poverty in our nation?

Just Neighbors offers a fresh look at the realities of poverty in our nation and encourages faith communities to look to their traditions for an appropriate response. Just Neighbors encourages people of faith to turn their faith into action.

The Interfaith Just Neighbors program begins with asking the question: "Who is my neighbor?" Participants are encouraged to expand their understanding to include others who may not live next door, or in the same economic class.

The more we know about our neighbors' struggles, the more effective we will be in assisting them. The more we understand the root causes of poverty, the more effective we will be in working and advocating for long-term, lasting change.

Let Just Neighbors be a springboard for meaningful action.

  • See poverty through the eyes of low-income children...
  • Make budgeting decisions for a working family which struggles to pay bills...
  • "Walk in the shoes" of Annie, a suddenly single mom...
  • Engage with low-paid workers facing today's workplace challenges...
  • Share compelling scripture passages...
  • Challenge myths about poverty, learn the facts...

Just Neighbors is flexible-choose any one session or use all consider using all nine sessions as a series.

Eight Ways to Use Just Neighbors

  1. Use Just Neighbors as a series, running each session in succession.
  2. Have an education class adopt Just Neighbors as its curriculum for weekly meetings over the course of two months, or use one session each month for nine months.
  3. Use a Just Neighbors session before or after worship to tie in with a sermon or a liturgical season, such as Passover, Lent, or Advent.
  4. Offer sessions of particular interest leading up to a service activity. For example, if you will be working on a Habitat for Humanity house or staffing a homeless shelter, use the session "Housing Matters" to make participants more attuned to the needs of those they are serving.
  5. Select one session as a springboard for more in-depth study and action. For example, if your congregation is beginning an initiative for interracial dialogue, the "Prejudice, Privilege, and Poverty" session is a logical starting point.
  6. Adapt Just Neighbors for your youth program, either with the youth group, or young people preparing for their confirmation or bar or bat mitzvah.
  7. Team up with another congregation in the area and participate in Just Neighbors together.
  8. Organize a Just Neighbors retreat and complete all nine sessions over the course of a weekend. Consider including a chance to meet some low-income neighbors.

What they Are Saying

 
As a rabbi, I see Just Neighbors as a resource that is designed sensitively to spark spiritual reflection for people of many faiths. As a teen educator, I appreciate the balance Just Neighbors strikes between providing information and helping people come to grips with what they are learning. For teenagers, the beautifully produced materials translate into credibility. The activities and simulations help make everything real and concrete for teens, who want to see the evidence for the ideas you hope they will take seriously.
Rabbi Jonathan Spira-Savett, Machar, Forest Hills, New York
 
Just Neighbors is an outstanding resource for congregations that want to learn more than just the facts and figures about poverty and homelessness. Through a wide range of participatory activities, people have an opportunity to personally identify with the real situations faced by people in poverty. Lesson plans are complete and easy to follow. The entire curriculum has a strong theological base that can be used in specific denominations or interfaith settings. The curriculum will be especially helpful in congregations where people have been involved in helping ministries with the poor and now want to engage in advocacy and organizing aimed at systemic change. Each of the nine units ends with specific things people can do in response to what they have experienced in the session. The material in Just Neighbors will challenge, inspire, and empower the justice-building work of the religious community.
Rev. Bruce Davidson, New Jersey Office of Governmental Ministries (ELCA), Trenton, NJ
 
Just Neighbors is professionally done with high-quality graphics, videos, and print materials. I was impressed by the accessibility of the program; it is thorough, easy to understand, and explained in a detailed step-by-step manner that allows leaders of church programs to use it without previous training. I highly recommend Just Neighbors.
Henry Carnes, Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania
 
When I previewed Just Neighbors, I was pleasantly surprised to find how well the material adapted the sessions to various learning styles that I have in my groups. From the crispness of the videos to the role-play of the "town council" meeting; from the learning play with children's blocks, to the task of figuring what bills to pay for a family in poverty: each session offers a way for participants to learn from the experience in the modality that works for them.
Deb MacPhail, Lutheran Social Ministries, Trenton, NJ
 
Almost every person of faith knows the scriptural mandate to care for those in need. But knowing how to respond to poverty is not so easy. Just Neighbors is an excellent tool to educate congregations about the systemic causes of poverty and the struggles of those in need. Even more importantly, it motivates people to act. I highly recommend this well-produced, thought-provoking curriculum.
Rev. Patricia Templeton, Episcopal Diocese of East Tennessee, Chattanooga, TN
 
For congregations that have minimal contact with families in poverty or the homeless, Just Neighbors is an excellent resource for introducing adults and youth to the plight of the poor. Each session is designed for ease of use as well as for highly effective education. I recommend this resource for every Social Ministry committee as a way of raising awareness and support in their congregation for the needs of the often neglected in our communities.
Karen Kaufman, Northeast Ohio Synod Resource Center, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
 
 
 
Resources  to promote Just Neighbors to faith based audiences