Former Presbytery of Lake Michigan candidate Rev. Daniel Van Beek.

Opening a community clothing closet and using donated funds to hire a community connections director are ways that a Kentucky church led by a former Presbytery of Lake Michigan candidate is living into its Matthew 25 commitment.

“We are not here to promote the church’s name,” says the Rev. Daniel Van Beek, “but to make known what we stand for.”

Van Beek is pastor at the Franklin Presbyterian Church. The congregation’s work to engage in all three Matthew 25 foci – building congregational vitality, dismantling structural racism and eradicating systemic poverty – is featured in an article by Donna Frischknecht Jackson published online April 28, 2022 by Presbyterians Today.

That commitment to the Matthew 25 work is one of the things that led Van Beek to accept a call to the Franklin, Kentucky, congregation after being ordained October 11, 2020 at First Presbyterian Church of Benton Harbor.

Van Beek says that the Matthew 25 work “has opened conversations” he never imagined would take place and helped the congregation discover what is a vital congregation.

The congregation established the Matthew 25 Clothes Closet in its basement to provide items to its neighbors.

Then, when a financial gift was left to the church, congregation members created the community connections position and hired the Rev. Bailey Pickens to help “connect the dots” within the community through nurturing conversations.

And the congregation welcomed 10 new members – many of whom joined because of the work being done in the community – this past winter, Van Beek says.