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Seeing Children Seeing God: A Practical Theology of Children and Poverty [Paperback]

By Pamela Couture (Author)
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Item Number 152179  
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Item Specifications...

Pages   144
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9.03" Width: 6.01" Height: 0.43"
Weight:   0.54 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Jun 1, 2000
Publisher   Abingdon Church Supplies
ISBN  0687084261  
EAN  9780687084265  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
The church has rarely moved beyond charity in addressing the challenges of the improverished and vulnerable children. Lacking is a holistic theology and praxis that incorperates the reality of poverty and the plight of children as integral to the church's theology and practice. Pamela Corture has accepted the challenge and with this book has produced a helpful resource for theologians, pastors, and other church leaders.

Publishers Description
In Seeing Children, Seeing God, Pamela Couture explores the actual and potential relation of the church and the theological school to economically and socially (relationally) poor children. She argues that the solution to the problem of child poverty requires the shared responsibility of individuals, families, neighborhoods, congregations, governments, businesses, and international organizations because children develop within these multiple systems. With their unique access to these multiple systems, churches and theological schools are in a wonderful position to transform the social ecology within which children develop and to assist in children's flourishing. Concretely, what would it mean for the caring ministries of the church and those who teach and learn about them in seminary to make the issue of children and poverty central to what we do? How would this change the way we live?

Pamela Couture argues from a Wesleyan perspective that caring for poor children is a means of grace -- a grace that deepens our experience as the adopted children of God. She draws explicitly on recent writings that have updated the Wesleyan theological tradition. Seeing Children, Seeing God will be of particular interest to everyone who is concerned about children and poverty, especially from a Wesleyan perspective.

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More About Pamela Couture

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Couture is Professor of Pastoral Care at Colgate-Rochester Divinity School, Rochester, NY.

Pamela D. Couture currently resides in the state of New York. Pamela D. Couture was born in 1951.

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Product Categories
1Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Social Sciences > Children's Studies   [577  similar products]
2Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Social Sciences > Sociology > General   [30158  similar products]
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5Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Clergy > Youth Ministry   [2570  similar products]
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Reviews - What do our customers think?
A Call to Mercy  Mar 2, 2006
Seeing Children, Seeing God is a powerful challenge for the people of God to live a life of mercy. The author maintains that works of mercy are absolutely critical in following God and doing His will. Couture demonstrates a thorough biblical rational for providing care for orphans, the destitute, and the widows.
Couture builds an inclusive framework of support for children that includes the individual, our families, our churches, our economic systems, our global and regional cultures, our governments, and our local communities. The call from this book is to get involved on some level of action for children. In the midst of an overwhelming challenge to help provide care, the author suggests we all begin by doing small regular works on behalf of innocent victims.
This is a passionate work that has helped me remember those who are often overlooked on the margins of lives-our children.

Disappointing  Mar 2, 2006
Pamela Couture's work was a huge disappointment. The title and subtitle hinted at a worthy topic--"a practical theology of children and poverty." However, the book failed to adequately convey what it promised.

In the first section Couture attemted to place into narrative what would have been better served through charts and graphs. The statistics supporting the supposition of child poverty are alarming, yet, to convey them in laborious prose was conter productive. Further, almost anyone paying attention to life already know that our children suffer great material poverty and "tenuous connections." In my opinion, many wasted pages were committed to portraying something that would already be understood by the reader.

As I moved into her later sections regarding a "practical theology" I was greatly disappointed. I sensed I was being exposed to a theology of poverty, then expected to make the not-so-logical leap that this theology automatically applied to children. Further, her theological argument was weak and not well-informed. And, as to being "practical," I saw little praxis in her development of her theology of children.

While I would not call Couture's work a failure, I would suggest that it was merely an elementary attempt at dealing with the poverty of children. In other words, it read to me like the first of many need revisions that may have resulted in a work worthy of applause.
The Importance of Solid Foundations  Feb 28, 2006
This author is an impassioned advocate for children. Her passion is for all children but especially for the oppressed, impoverished children of the world. Couture repeatedly refers to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. It would be beneficial to read this document before reading the book in that one would gain a more comprehensive understanding of the underpinnings of her writing. That document may be found at

Couture deals with two types of poverty, material poverty and the poverty of tenuous connections. Her concept of tenuous connections has to do with the way in which children are attached to their primary caretakers (the family) and community resources such as schools, hospitals, churches, etc. Caring may involve not only articulating the needs of the child, but helping them to connect with the resources to fulfill those needs. Attachments to family are often interrupted by homelessness, foster care, entry into the state social service system, and kinship care (residing with relatives). These children may or may not live in economically poor households, but almost all experience the poverty of tenuous connections - the fragility or absence of parental support (33).

An Associate Professor of Pastoral Theology, Couture is concerned that persons who practice pastoral care take on their share of responsibility for the future of children and youth. She addresses the church's care and the theology that undergirds it, as it is taught in seminary and practiced in the church (20). She advocates for continuing education and advanced programming in pastoral care to prepare ministers to comfortably deal with extreme difficulties of a child's life, such as loss and abandonment; physical, sexual, and psychological abuse; drugs and alcohol; exposure to and perpetration of violence; and post-traumatic stress (96). Certainly ministers need to be informed in these areas, however, in-depth involvement may require education in the field of mental health and/or social services.

It has been noted by previous reviewers that Couture has little, if any, emphasis on evangelism. Her focus seems to be on providing a structured, connected, undergirded support system for children in order for physiological needs (basic needs) to be met so that spiritual development (higher level needs) can become operative in the course of individual development. Lower level needs must be cared for in infants and children before higher level needs become operative. For instance, if you present the gospel to a starving child, chances are they will only be thinking about where their next meal is coming from. She does say that although providing children with material and human resources is essential, the most fundamental reconnection both for them and for us is with God (50). She just does not develop this theme.
Wanted: Mentors for Children  Feb 23, 2006
Church leaders have often referred to children as "the church of tomorrow." Yet, as Pamela Couture so vividly reminds us, children are the church of the present. Moreover, children have not been given the care and attention they rightly deserve. Couple this observation with an additional element of poverty, and the end result is an all but forgotten stratum of society.
Children in general, and specifically children residing in poverty, represent largely neglected target audiences for the average contemporary church. This is an unfortunate oversight, as children are so often a window to the very heart of God. Churches may support local, national, and/or international children's interests financially, and even have a token internal structure for programming, but rarely is there meaningful one-on-one mentoring, community care, and ongoing outreach. Couture is one voice calling the church to acts of mercy for those who are most vulnerable in our several cultures.
Toward this end, relationships are the primary bridge-builders of community care. The author is careful to remind her readers, who perhaps may be guilt-stricken as a result of her stark commentary, "Do not rush to save the world" (61). It is better to offer quality care to even one, than window-dressing to hundreds. The church can help, but it is time to start!
Pastors and church leaders will appreciate Couture's juxtaposition of mercy and piety, and the biblical bases for each. For pastoral care to be practical, though, it must have a means of tangible expression. The author clearly brings this point to bear in several frames of thought. The church's relevancy is not to be found in ideological ivory towers, but in streets and lanes where "the least of these" reside.
Giving Grace  Apr 14, 2002
...Caring with vulnerable children is a means of grace, a vehicle through which God makes God's self known to us and to them. In their care we experience grace, the movement of God in our lives that allows us to give and to receive from others. We commit ourselves to love despite fact that no one in the world considers us or them obliged to love one another. " (2000, p.13) Understanding this responsibility, the author explains the importance of caring for those who have been pushed aside by life. She describes what is available for the disenfranchised child. Raising the Biblical admonition from both the Old and New Testament, the impetus is given for why the church in general and the practice of pastoral care in particular is called to give special attention to these young ones of our society.

Among the reason for emphasizing this particular ministry are two overlapping concerns, which the author says are the result of economics and tenuous connection. Whether the child is in a home with both parents, one parent, a caregiver or is on the streets alone, this speaks of the change and uncertainty that comes to the connection they have in life. The Biblical directive for this approach to ministry is many sided; there is the recognition of the image of God, in which they were created. Conture admits that it was in and through her Godchildren that she saw God mirrored. It is as we minister the grace of God to these little ones, we are able to see the face of God. The Biblical admonition to care for the widowed orphan and the needy, there is the need to manifest the nature of God in his love mercy and grace. Ministry to the vulnerable in life recognizes both the piety and the mercy in faith. "Our work of mercy deepens our work of piety. (2000, p.58) The point at which these aspects of faith meet is the point of God's grace. Ministry to the vulnerable calls for God's grace.

"Godchildren sometimes suffer, often intensely, and behavioral problems result from this suffering. The traditional language of sin, evil and depravity does not allow us adequately to articulate the problem. The concept of "han" from Korean minjung theology offers helpful distinctions that augment our traditional language. Han refers to the suffering that is accumulated in the victims of sin, burdening them with agony." (2000, p.62)

Helping these who are the vulnerable find the resources they need is a real part of pastoral Care. Recognizing the systems, which surround them as well as the interests that engulf them, will help the church meet these at their point of need. Compassion at this level does not happen simply because a need has been observed and defined. Showing genuine interest in and for the who are the vulnerable, makes known the mercy of God.

The author, Couture makes an excellent point. Beginning with describing the agency responses to the need of the young and the vulnerable, she challenges the church to also respond to those who are in need. It is in recognizing this responsibility and the willingness to see children, will we see God.


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