Doing Kingdom Work
Sojomail - May 7, 2009
Delaying medical care is a characteristic of poverty. For people living close to the edge, taking off a day to visit a doctor or staying home sick is literally taking food out of their mouths.
- Paul J. Gertler, a professor of economics at the School of Public Health at the University of California at Berkeley, in response to why some in Mexico self-medicated before receiving hospital treatment for swine flu. (Source: The Washington Post)
Doing Kingdom Work
There were some remarkable outcomes to last week’s Mobilization to End Poverty, with nearly 50 sponsors and partners. The week’s events brought together Christian leaders and grassroots activists committed to overcoming poverty -- both domestically and internationally. Here are some of the statistics from the event: There were 1,153 people who attended, from 44 states (and The District of Columbia) and six countries. The quality of the various presentations at the Mobilization was widely praised as excellent—both the inspirational plenary sessions and the in depth training workshops. Morning Bible studies were led by John Perkins and Vincent Harding, and there were three nights of uplifting worship with powerful preaching by Rep. John Lewis, Pastor Freddie Haynes, and Bishop Vashti McKenzie, and music by Martin Smith and Vicky Beeching. Awards were given to exemplary grassroots activists and to national figures, such as Tavis Smiley, who are willing to speak out on the crucial issues of economic and racial justice.
We all know how busy President Obama’s schedule is, but he was kind enough to send a personal video, which was presented the first morning of the Mobilization, thanking the activists from the faith community for coming to Washington and for what they do back home. To further highlight the administration’s sense of the importance of the event, the video was followed by a panel discussion with top White House staff working on the anti-poverty agenda, including the Director of the Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships, Joshua DuBois; the administration’s point person on poverty, Martha Coven; and Special Adviser for Green Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Van Jones, who showed that he is still a preacher despite now being part of a presidential administration.
The next day we went to Capitol Hill for an advocacy day. Faith leaders got appointments in the offices of 82 senators and 210 representatives! That is almost unheard of for one group in one day. Our advocacy teams urged Congress to commit to reducing poverty by half in the next 10 years, fully funding the foreign assistance budget, and supporting health care reform. At a rousing afternoon rally, five members of the Senate or House came to speak to us, including the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi.
The diversity of the participants was also encouraging in many ways. Twenty-four denominations and dozens of faith-based organizations were represented from across the spectrum – progressives, moderates, and conservatives – further demonstrating Sojourners’ commitment to reaching across the theological and political spectrum and uniting the church in the fight against poverty. Given Sojourners’ firm commitment to progressive evangelicalism, we were delighted to see the growth in folks who self-identify in this way. It was also delightful to see a much larger percentage of the younger generation than many of our previous conferences, as well as greater racial and ethnic diversity than ever before.
Participants left the Mobilization committed to watching what will now happen in Congress on issues impacting low-income families and vulnerable people, praying for policy makers to do the right thing, standing with those in poverty, educating their churches and communities, and continuing to build relationships and advocating to hold their members of Congress accountable to a bold anti-poverty agenda. We are firmly committed to a series of follow-up steps that will make it clear that the Mobilization was another big step in our campaign to overcome poverty. That goal must become a bipartisan commitment and a nonpartisan cause, a vision that was clearly seen last week in all those who came to Washington. Some issues transcend politics, but we need good political strategy to see results. And that was a real part of the outcome of the Mobilization to End Poverty.
My favorite story from the week was that of a poor young women who had been sexually trafficked in a major East Coast city. And when civic crusaders closed the brothel where she lived, she became homeless. But she got hooked up with one of our partner groups in that city, and they brought her to the Mobilization. And here, at this gathering, she heard about a Jesus she had never heard about before—one that wanted to save people like her. So on their delegation’s way to the Capitol, this young woman gave her life to Jesus Christ at the corner of “10th and D,” as I was told. And that’s the vision I have—of believers doing the work of the kingdom of God in the world, for justice and peace, and people coming to faith because of their witness. Thanks be to God!
A New Kind of "Green"
In the midst of economic crisis, some communities are saving their green dollars by going green. In the May issue of Sojourners Magazine, we featured some of the people who are surviving by thinking outside the box.
What will it take for Detroit to rise again? Bill Wylie-Kellerman writes about Detroit’s Garden Resource Program Collaborative—a collection of three farms and more than 200 school and community gardens bloomed in open spaces, plus nearly 400 family plots—and other ways community members are revolutionizing the way people survive economic collapse.
Climate Change has already begun impacting the global South. Listen as Assistant Editor Elizabeth Palmberg interviews two religious leaders from Fiji and Nigeria to hear how climate change has impacted their communities.
Have books become obsolete? Associate Editor Molly Marsh asks the question in this article about the future of print publishing, and how a green-focused cadre of book industry leaders hopes to change bad environmental practices, save about five million trees every year in the process, and revive the publishing industry.
New Hope in the Movement for Immigrant Rights
The Glue of Society: Celebrating Mother's Day
Are Christians Bad for an Empire's Economy? Should They Be?
The Two Futures Project: Who Would Jesus Bomb?
Mother's Peace Day
A Moment or a Movement? Sustaining Momentum after the Mobilization to End Poverty
Jack Kemp: Bleeding-Heart Conservative
You Go J-O!
Video: Eugene Cho Interviews Jim Wallis
God's Image and Caesar's Image: Torture and the Currency of Empire
Spiritual Gifts Are Not Bound by Prejudice
Mark Driscoll, St. Francis, and the Megachurch
White Evangelicals for Torture
The Burden of Inclusion Should Rest Upon 'Insiders'
Anyone wanting to meet young evangelicals who voted for President Obama would have done well to drop by Sojourners' "Mobilization to End Poverty" conference this past week. More than 1,000 of them were there to help build AIDS caregiver kits, attend a "justice as an act of worship" service, and figure out ways to make their campuses more aware of world hunger.+Click to continue
Credo: The Rev. Jim Wallis
Joshua and the religious hiring question
The Washington Times Belief Blog
Christian Leaders Call Churches to Task on Poverty Fight
The Christian Post
Hopes rise for progress on fatherhood problems
The Associated Press
Baptist minister leading evangelical movement for nuclear disarmament
The Dallas Morning News
Texas Faith: Is broadening the evangelical agenda a political sideshow?
The Dallas Morning News religion blog
Experiences have consequences
"Sojourners in the news" articles are the most recent news clippings that mention Sojourners in any way - whether favorably or unfavorably. Though we provide the text on our site for your convenience, we do not necessarily endorse the views of these articles or their source publications.
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"Courageous and visionary" - Cornel West. Fit for Freedom, Not for Friendship: Quakers, African Americans, and the Myth of Racial Justice, Donna McDaniel and Vanessa Julye. Quaker Press of Friends General Conference, 2009. $28/P $45/C. More...
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