Faith, Politics and the Common Good Draw Catholics to National Convention in Philadelphia

July 1, 2008, 10:15 am | Posted by

700 delegates will affirm platform addressing economic justice, health care, immigration and other moral issues

Washington, DC- During an election year when religious voters are being aggressively courted by both political parties, Catholics and other people of faith will participate in an unprecedented convention in Philadelphia, July 11-13, to urge the presidential candidates and all elected officials to put the common good before narrow partisan agendas.

Seven hundred delegates representing more than 20 religious and Catholic social justice organizations from across the country will attend the first-of-its-kind Convention for the Common Good and affirm a platform that addresses issues such as the economy, health care, immigration, environmental stewardship, war and building a consistent culture of life. Over 2000 people in 40 states have contributed to the platform over the last several months. The platform will be sent to both presidential candidates and national political parties.

Convened by Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good and NETWORK, A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby, the convention will be held at the Sheraton Philadelphia City Center Hotel. Sens. John McCain and Barack Obama, along with surrogates, have been invited. Elected officials scheduled to attend include Sen. Bob Casey, Jr. of Pennsylvania, Rep. Marcy Kaptur of Ohio and Rep. Tom Feeney of Florida. Speakers include Sr. Helen Prejean, author of Dead Man Walking, Bishop Walter Sullivan, retired bishop of Richmond, Va.; John Sweeney, president of the AFL-CIO; and Dr. Shawn Copeland of the Boston College theology department. Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne, Jr. will moderate a discussion about faith and politics on Saturday July 12 at 8 p.m.

“Catholics and all Americans are tired of politics as usual and hungry for a new vision of governance that is rooted in a moral commitment to human dignity and social justice,” said Alexia Kelley, Executive Director of Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good. Ms. Kelley is co-author with Chris Korzen of A Nation for All: How the Catholic Vision of the Common Good Can Save America From the Politics of Division.

Sponsors of the convention include Pax Christi USA; Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns; Center of Concern; Sisters of Mercy of the Americas; National Catholic Rural Life Conference; Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities; Ignation Solidarity Network; Leadership Conference of Women Religious; U.S. Catholic Mission Association; Conference of Major Superiors of Men; Oblates of St. Francis de Sales; Franciscan Mission Service; Franciscan Action Network; Catholics United; Catholic Scholars for Worker Justice and the University of San Francisco, Lane Center for Catholic Social Thought.

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Diverse Christians Chart Future of Faith in Politics

June 18, 2008, 4:11 pm | Posted by

“Envision the Future: A Declaration for the Common Good”

In an election year when religious leaders are attracting unprecedented media attention, a new and diverse chorus of Christian voices has issued a challenging and provocative declaration on the common good.

Envision the Future: A Declaration on the Common Good calls for a radical rethinking of the role of faith in public life. As the declaration states:

Envision offers new voices in the public square to address the complexities that confront the United States and the world. We are racially and ethnically diverse activists, clergy, lay persons, students, and scholars who are deeply informed by a faith that compels us to participate in God’s work to eradicate poverty, create peace, and build just communities and right relationships with the earth.

The declaration comes out of the historic Envision 2008 conference. Attended by over 500 Christian activists, clergy, lay persons, students, and scholars who gathered in Princeton, New Jersey on June 8-10, the conference brought together an unprecedented diverse group, including such individuals as Richard Cizik, Jim Wallis, Brenda Salter McNeil, Samuel Rodriguez and Shane Claiborne to begin a new movement for peace, justice, and equality informed by their faith and a new vision of common life and community in the United States and the world.

Linda E. Thomas, Professor of Theology and Anthropology at Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago says, “In order to fully embrace the Kairos moment in our country’s history we must build new coalitions across a broad theological spectrum. This is vital if all human beings are to flourish and this is possible if we as Christians move toward the common good.”

“What we’re witnessing is the beginning of what could be another Great Awakening in which the hunger for spirituality and social justice are fueling a revival and inspiring a movement that will significantly impact politics in the 2008 election and beyond,” says Wallis, president and founder of Sojourners and author of the New York Times bestsellers God’s Politics and The Great Awakening: Seven Commitments to Revive America.

Envision the Future: A Declaration on the Common Good will serve as the focal document for a growing movement of diverse Christians dedicated to a working for of a brighter and better future for the nation and the world. The document will circulate widely and will also be available on the Envision 2008 website.

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Colorado Religious Leaders Launch Interfaith Coalition to Change “Values Debate”

June 13, 2008, 3:48 pm | Posted by

(Denver) – An overflowing crowd of nearly 300 religious leaders from Muslim, Jewish, Christian and other faiths gathered at Denver’s Montview Boulevard Presbyterian Church last night to publicly launch We Believe Colorado – a new interfaith coalition dedicated to broadening the values debate in the 2008 election and beyond. The evening featured inspiring interfaith worship, political advocacy training, and numerous organizations endorsing We Believe Colorado’s founding statement. (See bottom for full list.)

“We’re uniting to usher in a broader, inclusive dialogue on issues ranging from abortion reduction to high rates of incarceration, from immigration to environmental stewardship,” said Rev. Ron Stief, a lead organizer of We Believe Colorado and Director of Organizing Strategy for Faith in Public Life.

The enthusiastic overflow crowd applauded the impassioned messages from the Latino, African-American and white leaders who endorsed We Believe Colorado’s successful gathering of diverse people of faith together around shared principles.

“H.S. Power & Light, a Latino Faith Based Initiative, believes that We Believe Colorado is an important new interfaith movement that brings religious leaders from all faiths to work together on issues in which we have common perspectives that touch the lives of so many Coloradoans in a positive manner,” said Fidel “Butch” Montoya, director of H.S. Power & Light and a former Deputy Mayor of Denver.

As the 2008 election approaches, We Believe Colorado is creating partnerships among faith activists who are already active in addressing a broad values agenda.

“Our coalition members are already taking the lead on common good issues — We Believe Colorado will amplify these efforts in the public square in this crucial election year,” said Rev. Jann Halloran, chair of the Colorado Council of Churches’ Justice Commission.

We Believe Colorado is part of a growing national movement of statewide interfaith coalitions working to broaden the faith and values conversation. The group was inspired in part by We Believe Ohio, founded in 2006 to create a voice for common good values and a positive, faith-based alternative to the divisive rhetoric of the religious right.

The following organizations officially endorsed We Believe Colorado: The Interfaith Alliance of Colorado, Colorado Council of Churches, H.S. Power and Light – A Latino Faith Based Initiative, Lutheran Advocacy Ministry of Colorado, Interfaith Voices Against Poverty, Northeast Denver Islamic Center, Eco-Justice Ministries, Montview Boulevard Presbyterian Church, United Church of Montbello.

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Over 100 Colorado Faith Leaders to Reclaim Values in ’08

June 12, 2008, 2:51 pm | Posted by

Diverse New Coalition Puts Common Good Issues at Center of “Values Debate”

We Believe Colorado – Tonight at Montview Boulevard Presbyterian Church in Denver at 6:30 pm a diverse new coalition of faith leaders united to put common good issues at the center of the “values debate” in the 2008 election and beyond – is gathering for a historic evening of worship, celebration and training for effective advocacy on moral issues such as immigration, civil rights, the environment and economic justice. More than 100 people have already registered, and we expect even more to attend.

Members of Muslim, Christian, Jewish and other congregations will attend this racially and ethnically diverse gathering to embrace and advance a values agenda that is new, inclusive and focused on a broad range of issues that affect us all. Together we are changing the face of faith in the public square. Members of the news media are particularly encouraged to attend from 7:00 – 7:45 pm for an opening session with all the religious leaders together on the stage affirming the We Believe Colorado founding statement and strategy.

More information is available at http://www.webelievecolorado.org.

Where: Montview Boulevard Presbyterian Church, 1980 Dahlia St. at Montview Boulevard, Denver

When: Tonight, June 12, 6:30 – 9 pm.

What: Interfaith celebration and worship, workshops for political engagement and issue advocacy.

Who: Leaders available for interviews: [Call Becky Vanderslice at (303) 517-7955 to arrange]

• Imam A-Rahim Ali, Northeast Denver Islamic Center/Greater Denver Interfaith Alliance

• Rev. Phil Campbell, Iliff School of Theology

• Rabbi Brian Field, Judaism Your Way

• Rev. Jann Halloran, Chair of Justice Commission, Colorado Council of Churches

• Rev. Reginald C. Holmes, New Covenant Christian Church

• Imam Ibrahim Kazerooni, Imam and Muslim scholar

• Fidel “Butch” Montoya, Founder, H.S. Power and Light-Latino Faith Based Initiative

• Rev. Dr. James R. Ryan, Executive Director, Colorado Council of Churches

• Rev. Peter Sawtell Eco-Justice Ministries

• Rev. Andrew Simpson, Vice-President , Colorado Council of Churches, Presiding Elder, African Methodist Episcopal Church

• Rev. Nathan Woodliff-Stanley, The Interfaith Alliance of Colorado

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Historic Christian Gathering to Chart Gospel Politics of the Future

June 3, 2008, 2:55 pm | Posted by

Unprecedentedly diverse “Envision” conference June 8-10

In an election year when religious leaders are getting media scrutiny, the chorus of voices — both new and established — calling for rethinking the role of faith in public life grows louder. Hundreds of Evangelical and Mainline Christian activists will gather in Princeton, New Jersey, on June 8-10 to envision the future of Christian engagement in the public square.

The conference – Envision – is organized by an unprecedentedly diverse group of leaders, scholars, artists and activists, and will include prominent Christians such as Richard Cizik, Jim Wallis and Brenda Salter McNeil. At this critical moment, this prophetic group will craft a statement charting the gospel politics of the future.

Conference directors and participants will be available to media between now and the conference.

“We are not just people of vision, but are also implementing a public strategy that will not only shape the Fall’s election, but is transforming culture beyond politics, both in the United States and abroad,” says Cizik, Vice President for Governmental Affairs of the National Association of Evangelicals, who was recently featured in TIME Magazine’s annual “TIME 100.”

“What we’re witnessing is the beginning of what could be another Great Awakening in which the hunger for spirituality and social justice are fueling a revival and inspiring a movement that will significantly impact politics in the 2008 election and beyond,” says Wallis, president and founder of Sojourners and author of the New York Times bestsellers God’s Politics and The Great Awakening: Seven Commitments to Revive America.

“No matter who gets elected, the real work of social change comes after all the confetti has hit the floor. This is a chance for all the diverse followers of Jesus to think through our role in a new political era,” says conference co-director and New York Faith & Justice founder Lisa Sharon Harper, author of the forthcoming Evangelical Does Not Equal Republican or Democrat.

The conference will present a rare opportunity for Evangelicals, Mainline Protestants, Pentecostals, African Americans, Asians, Hispanics, Native Americans, Whites and many other groups represented in the church universal to draw on their diverse experience and shared faith to forge common ground for the next century of Christian public engagement.

“Envision 08 is ¡Ahora! An idea whose time has come, re-thinking our faith amongst a great diverse mosaic, the mosaic of 21st century U.S. Christianity,” says conference steering committee member Rev. Gabriel Salguero, director of Princeton Theological Seminary’s Hispanic Leadership Program.

The conference will take place June 8-10, 2008 at Princeton University Chapel. A complete list of speakers and program details can be found at www.ev08.org. The week before the conference, Christians across the country, as well as those attending the conference, will gather for an online dialogue to create a vision for the future of faith in politics.

Conference directors and participants will be available to media between now and the conference.

Envision ’08 directors and steering committee:

• Rev. Dr. Peter Heltzel – New York Theological Seminary, 646-279-6690, peterheltzel@gmail.com

• Lisa Sharon Harper – Executive Director, New York Faith & Justice, 646-702-9776, lisasharper@mindspring.com

• Rev. Gabriel Salguero – Director, Hispanic Leadership Program, Princeton Theological Seminary; Executive Member, Latino Leadership Circle, 609-497-7994, Gabriel.salguero@ptsem.edu

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Participant spokespersons:

• Rev. Richard Cizik – Vice President for Governmental Affairs, National Association of Evangelicals. Please contact Sarah Kropp at skropp@nae.net or call Richard at (202) 253-6525..

• Rev. Jim Wallis – Founder and President, Sojourners. Please contact Jason Gediek, Deputy Press Secretary, Sojourners, T: (202) 745-4633 / jgedeik@sojo.net

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