YORK (UMNS) -- Faith and community groups will sponsor events to focus
the nation’s attention on poverty in at least 15 cities this summer.
new alliance, “Let Justice Roll: Faith and Community Voices Against
Poverty,” is led by the National Council of Churches (NCC), which
includes the United Methodist Church, and the Center for Community
Justice Roll” will keep the issue of ending poverty before both voters
and politicians in the 2004 presidential election year. Participants
will seek commitments from local, state and national public officials,
as well as delegates to the Republican and Democratic national
conventions, to help shape public policies that address the needs of
those living in poverty.
June 15, the “Let Justice Roll” campaign will not end until poverty
ends, declared the Rev. Paul Sherry, coordinator of the NCC’s
Mobilization to Overcome Poverty and former president of the United
Church of Christ,.
will pointedly ask public officials, candidates and delegates: ‘What
will you do to end poverty?’” he said. “And we will expect an answer.”
Rev. Robert Edgar, a United Methodist pastor who serves as the NCC’s
chief executive, reported the hard facts: nearly 35 million Americans,
including 12 million children, live below the poverty line. People of
faith, he said, need to care “for the least of these, our brothers and
has shown that progress against poverty has occurred only when
low-income people themselves are involved in the fight “and when people
of faith have lifted their voices in solidarity,” according to Deepak
Bhargava, executive director, Center for Community Change.
“We’re mobilizing around a specific agenda that will extend long past elections this fall,” he said.
efforts will focus on education programs to register, mobilize and
protect voters. The Minnesota State Baptist Convention, for example, has
a mandate “to register 100 percent of individuals who are eligible to
vote in our churches,” said the Rev. Ian D. Bethel, Sr., convention
Justice Roll” events will include worship services or rallies showing
the connection between religious convictions and work to overcome
poverty; meetings of religious and community leaders with elected
officials and political convention delegates, news conferences and voter
of June 15, events were scheduled in the following cities: Seattle,
June 25-26; Portland, Ore., June 26-27; Eugene, Ore., June 28;
Rochester, N.Y., July 11-12; Minneapolis, July 23; Boston, July 28, in
concurrence with the Democratic National Convention; New York, Aug. 31,
in concurrence with the Republican National Convention; Milwaukee, Sept.
18; Albuquerque, Sept. 18; and Chicago, Oct. 9-10.
also are being arranged for Raleigh, N.C., Columbia, S.C., Columbus,
Ohio, Philadelphia, and New Jersey, but dates have not yet been
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