Press release from the National Council of Churches
Leaders representing a coalition of 52 national faith-based organizations join together to celebrate the nation’s largest interfaith anti-poverty effort
November 22, 2010 WASHINGTON – As millions of Americans begin to prepare their Thanksgiving meals, faith leaders representing organizations from across the country convened on Capitol Hill this week to remind Congress and the Administration that there are many Americans who don’t know when their next meal may be and that there are reforms Congress and the Administration can implement today that will go a long way towards cutting poverty in half over the next ten years.
As a conclusion to the Fighting Poverty with Faith mobilization, Rabbi Steve Gutow, Rev. Larry Snyder and Rev. Dr. Michael Kinnamon, the heads of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, Catholic Charities USA, and National Council of the Churches respectively, met with members of Congress and staff, Administration officials, and coalition partners to discuss national efforts to reduce poverty. Kevin Concannon, the Under Secretary of Agriculture for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services; David Hansell, the Acting Assistant Secretary for the Administration for Children and Families in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; and Max Finberg, Director of USDA Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships also provided remarks.
Fighting Poverty with Faith is a nationwide effort co-chaired by the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, Catholic Charities USA and the National Council of Churches. Now in its third year, Fighting Poverty with Faith includes 52 national faith-based organizations and mobilizes thousands of individuals across the country to take action to address poverty, making it the largest interfaith anti-poverty effort in the country. The Fighting Poverty with Faith mobilization focuses attention on the causes of poverty, highlights strategies to reduce poverty, and aggressively seeks new economic opportunities for the nation’s most vulnerable.
Rev. Dr. Michael Kinnamon, General Secretary of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA states, “At a time when the number of people in poverty is rising, when one in every five children lives below the poverty line, it is imperative for people of faith to speak up with even louder voice on behalf of the poor. This effort is too large for any single church or religion, which is why the member communions of the National Council of Churches are so pleased to join with the Jewish Council on Public Affairs and Catholic Charities in Fighting Poverty with Faith. As Andrew Young once said, ‘The existence of poverty in the 21st Century is the moral equivalent of slavery in the 19th Century.’ In this sense, Fighting Poverty with Faith is a test case of our religious convictions and commitment.”
Rabbi Steve Gutow, president of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, continues “As we sit down at our Thanksgiving Day tables with friends and family and give thanks for the bountiful food we will share, we must remember that there are millions of Americans who aren’t as fortunate and don’t know when their next meal will be. The Fighting Poverty with Faith mobilization highlights our responsibility to our neighbors in need and encourages our nation’s leaders to address poverty issues head-on, providing lasting relief for those who need it the most.”
Rev. Larry Snyder, president and CEO of Catholic Charities USA, adds “We must come together not only as organizations but as a nation and work harder to seriously reduce poverty in America. To achieve that, we must develop fresh approaches providing long-term solutions so that individuals and families can move beyond safety net support and sustain a life of independence and dignity. We have no choice but to meet this challenge head on.”
This year’s Fighting Poverty with Faith mobilization was launched on October 5 with a national teleconference discussing the role of faith-based organizations in fighting poverty. The teleconference featured Joshua DuBois, Executive Director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, and Martha Coven from the White House Domestic Policy Council.
Among the numerous forums and events held across the country through October and November were a free community health fair staffed by Jewish and Muslim healthcare professionals in Detroit, a homeless resource fair in New York City, and a prayer vigil and community service day in Omaha.
In Detroit, Muslim and Jewish healthcare professionals offered free health screenings to those who lack insurance but do not qualify for government-provided or other no- or low-cost health care programs.
At the homeless resource fair in New York City, students from Yeshiva University, the New York University Hillel and the Columbia University Hillel volunteered to provide clothing, blankets and food to homeless individuals and families. The student volunteers listened to and recorded the participants’ stories about their lives and experiences being homeless, and these stories are being compiled into a journal the student volunteers will present to New York City and State elected officials as part of continuing efforts to inspire and enact reforms that help address New York City’s homeless population.
In Omaha, members of the First Christian Church joined together with other Christian and interfaith partners to pray and learn about homelessness in their midst. Community participants also volunteered with local agencies providing critical services to the homeless and underserved.
The 2010 Fighting Poverty with Faith mobilization is endorsed by: African Methodist Episcopal Church; Alliance of Baptists; Alliance to End Hunger; American Baptist Home Mission Societies; Apostolic Catholic Church; AVODAH: The Jewish Service Corps; BBYO, Inc.; Bread for the World; Catholic Charities USA; Center of Concern; Christian Church, Disciples of Christ; Church of the Brethren Global Partnerships; Diocese of the Armenian Church of America; Disciples Justice Action Network; The Episcopal Church; Evangelical Lutheran Church in America; Evangelicals for Social Action; Hazon; Hindu American Foundation; Hindu American Seva Charities; International Association of Jewish Vocational Services; International Council of Community Churches; Islamic Circle of North America; Islamic Relief USA; Islamic Society of North America; Jewish Council for Public Affairs; Jewish Funds for Justice; Jewish Labor Committee; Jewish Reconstructionist Federation; Jewish Women International; Lutheran Services in America; MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger; Metropolitan Community Churches; Moravian Church Northern Province; Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC); National Advocacy Center of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd; National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA; National Council of Jewish Women; NETWORK, A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby; Presbyterian Church (U.S.A) Office of Public Witness; Progressive National Baptist Convention; Repair the World; Sisters of Mercy of the Americas, Institute Justice Team; The Jewish Federations of North America; The New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good; The Rabbinical Assembly; The Swedenborgian Church; Union for Reform Judaism; United Church of Christ, Justice and Witness Ministries; The United Methodist Church-General Board of Church and Society; Women of Reform Judaism; World Student Christian Federation – North America.
More information on this year’s Fighting Poverty with Faith mobilization, including a full list of events that took place across the country, can be found at www.fightingpovertywithfaith.com.