Pat Conover: Sharing the Journey
Understanding Poverty

Guatemala Highlands
Seekers Church School of Christian Living
Spring 2009
Pat Conover


To help Seekers better understand poverty in the United States (and perhaps secondarily around the world). To explore and share one's perceptions, feelings, and experiences of poverty or of being in interaction with low-income people. To get into the habit of asking several kinds of questions when discussions of poverty arise. To consider diverse anti-poverty strategies, including political/governmental strategies. To link all of the above goals to Christian story and theology and ethics.

Class One: To disaggregate the concept of poverty - to think about all the different kinds of people who have low-income. This leads immediately into realizing that there are multiple causes of poverty, multiple paths into poverty. Almost all of this class would be discussion, very little lecture. Class members will choose a particular kind of poverty they want to learn about.

Class Two: Each class member asked to present for five minutes about their experience relative to poverty, including their feelings. The class will also discuss challenges and successes in starting to find what you want to know about a particular kind of poverty.

Class Three Each class member would be asked to present for 5 minutes about the kind of poverty they are learning about, who they are and how they became poor. Class will break into pairs so that each person can sharpen the kinds of questions they want to understand about the kind of poverty they are studying.

Class Four Each class member would be asked to present for 5 minutes about the deepening questions they are working on, how their understanding has changed based on their studies, and how their feelings have changed about people in the kind of poverty they are studying as a result of what they learned so far.

Note: The homework leading up to classes 2 and 3 and 4 would be aimed at preparing for the class presentations.

Class Five Pat will present some generalizations about poverty in the United States and each class member will be given an opportunity to respond about how well the generalizations fit, or don't fit, with the kind of poverty they have been studying.

Class Six How was poverty in biblical times different from poverty in the contemporary United States? What did Jesus have to say about poverty and how much is that relevant to being in solidarity with people who have low incomes in the United States today?

Session One | Session Two | Session Three | Session Four | Session Five | Session Six | Guiding Questions | Poverty Resources

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