Christian Group Completes 2,500-Mile Walk across USA with Surprising Findings
(Mt. Airy, MDâ€¦Just 43 miles from Washington, DC) â€“ Out of the recent increased media attention on the reemergence of the so-called “Religious Left,” one question has repeatedly arisen: is there an actual movement of real people behind the hype? CrossWalk America embarked on a 2,500 mile walk across the country to find out if their fellow Christians are in fact seeking a compassionate, inclusive alternative to the voices that have long-dominated their faith in the public square.
The answer they found was a resounding: “YES!” But perhaps much to the mediaâ€™s dismay, they also found that this movement transcends political labels of “Left,” “Right,” “liberal,” “conservative” and “moderate” â€“ enabling it to broadly attract people from across the spectrums of faith and ideology.
After meeting with thousands of people in twelve states over the past four-and-a-half months, CrossWalk America completes their journey this weekend in Washington, DC.
WHAT: CrossWalk America Final Walk Event
WHERE: Foundry United Methodist Church, 1500 16th St. NW, Washington, DC
WHEN: Sunday, September 3, 2006 at 4 pm
**Hundreds to join the CrossWalk team for a 1-mile walk to Foundry, starting at Meridian Park at 2 pm.
“What do you call a Christian who is against abortion but works tirelessly on behalf of the poor? What about a Christian who prays in tongues and calls upon Jesus Christ as her only Lord and Savior, yet also believes God creates other paths for humanity besides Christianity? Are these people conservative, liberal, or moderate?” CrossWalk co-president and core walker Rev. Eric Elnes put forth.
“Time and again weâ€™ve heard the same comments from twenty-something Emergent-Church evangelicals and older mainline denomination congregants alike: ‘Somethingâ€™s in the air,’ or ‘I can feel it,” â€œYouâ€™re walking for me,â€? CrossWalk co-president and core walker Rebecca Glenn relayed. “Thereâ€™s a growing movement out there.”
CROSSWALK AMERICAâ€™S IMPACT BY THE NUMBERS
â€¢ Number of people who participated: 11,195
â€¢ Number of churches that hosted CWA: 150
â€¢ Number of families that hosted CWA: more than 200
â€¢ Number of unique visitors spending 3+ minutes on website or blog: 120,355
â€¢ Number of walker blog posts from the road: nearly 200
â€¢ Number of steps walked in support of CWA (â€œWalk wherever you areâ€?): 35,789,451
â€¢ Newspaper, TV and/or radio coverage: in all 12 states
â€¢ John Shelby Spong, theologian and author of 18 books including Why Christianity Must Change or Die
â€¢ Bishop Carlton Pearson, a noted voice for tolerance and change in the Pentacostal Church and nationally-renowned speaker and author recently featured on Dateline NBC
â€¢ Rev. Eric Elnes and Rebecca Glenn, co-presidents of CrossWalk America and core walkers
â€¢ Singer/songwriter Michelle Swan, a DC-area favorite, will provide live music
Core walkers began in Phoenix, Arizona on Easter Sunday, 2006 and walked through New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Maryland, culminating in Washington, DC. Over the four-and-a-half month period, the group walked an average of 26 miles a day, five days a week. CrossWalk America is committed to offering a different voice for Christianity in America, a compassionate, inclusive witness of the Three Great Loves of God, neighbor and self, which Jesus proclaimed as the cornerstone of Christian faith.
For more information about CrossWalk America, to see the entire route walked, and to read posts from the road on their blog, log onto www.crosswalkamerica.org.
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National religious leaders available to share first-hand view of the storm-ravaged Gulf Coast and how the faith community is responding to this ongoing national tragedy
As we approach the first anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, just six days away, members of the African-American faith community are calling on our collective conscience to recall the stormâ€™s immediate aftermath, to recognize the struggle victims in the Gulf Coast continue to battle, and to hold public officials accountable for promises and commitments made to restore rebuild the region. Members of two prominent African-American clergy coalitions â€“ the Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference, and the Gamaliel African-American Leadership Commission â€“ are available to discuss the rebuilding efforts from a faith perspective, and plans to mark this tragic event in commemorative services across the country.
Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference: This Sunday, August 27, led by Rev. James Forbes, Senior Pastor of the Riverside Church in New York, pastors from across the country will lead worship services that include the same litany and resolution of remembrance and commitment. The Proctor Conference also recently completed hearings held by the National Katrina Justice Commission, the first national independent body of African-American clergy and community activists to investigate events surrounding the Hurricane Katrina disaster. The commission heard testimony from evacuees, public officials, church leaders and others in Washington, DC, New Orleans and Houston this summer to identify critical next steps for reconstruction and restoration. (See Houston Chronicle coverage below.) MEDIA NOTE: To arrange interviews with Proctor pastors, please contact Rhoda McKinney-Jones at 267.218.4023 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Gamaliel African-American Leadership Commission (AALC): Through the Linked Fate campaign, the Gamaliel Foundation is organizing hundreds of commemorative vigils and worship services across the country. Also, this week, 30 pastors â€“ from as far away as Chicago, Cincinnati, and Milwaukee â€“ returned from a three-city bus tour of New Orleans, Biloxi and Baton Rouge, meeting with clergy and other survivors of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Based on what they learned during the â€œDrowning on Dry Land/Connecting Covenantâ€? visit, the AALC will help to rebuild and restore by advocating for public policy, and social and economic capital that benefits the poor, the left-out, and the left behind. (See New Orleans Times-Picayune coverage below.) MEDIA NOTE: To arrange interviews with AALC pastors, please contact Jessica Watson at 202.544.7921 or email@example.com.
Prominent clergy and members of both groups from New York, Texas, Ohio, Illinois, Georgia, Wisconsin, Indiana, and Washington, DC are available for comment and interviews, including:
Rev. Dr. James A. Forbes
Senior Minister, The Riverside Church
New York, NY
Rev. Forbes is the lead pastor of the Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference Commemorative Day of Worship, and will lead a commemorative service at the interdenominational, interracial, and international 2,400-member Riverside Church on Sunday, August 27th. Known in national and international religious circles as the preacherâ€™s preacher, Newsweek magazine recognized Dr. Forbes as one of the 12 â€œmost effective preachersâ€? in the English-speaking world.
Rev. Dr. Jeremiah A. Wright
Senior Pastor, Trinity Church of Christ
Rev. Wright is a Founder of the Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference. Under his leadership, Trinity membership has grown from 87 adult members to 10,000, with over seventy active ministries. He has authored many articles and books and lectured throughout the world.
Rev. Otis Moss, III
Pastor, Trinity Church of Christ
A Trustee of the Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference, Newsweek magazine cited Rev. Moss as one of “The Lordâ€™s Foot Soldiers” committed to transforming the lives of youth and the African American Pulpit Journal named him one of the 20 young ministers to watch.
Dr. Iva Carruthers
General Secretary and Founder, Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference, Inc.
As head of the Proctor Conference, Dr. Carruthers shepherds efforts to strengthen the capacity of the African American faith community to address the social justice agenda in the Black church.
Rev. Cheryl Rivera
Antioch Missionary Baptist Church, East Chicago
Metropolitan Alliance of Congregations (MAC), Chicago, IL
Rev. Rivera is the National Director and Founder of Gamaliel Foundation African American Leadership Commission (AALC). She was a lead organizer of the â€œDrowning on Dry Landâ€? clergy bus tour of the Gulf Coast.
Pastor Sharon Smith
Sharon Smith Ministries International
Treasurer, United Congregations of Metro East
East St. Louis, IL
Pastor Smith is Treasurer of the Gamaliel African American Leadership Commission (AALC), and was a key organizer of the â€œDrowning on Dry Landâ€? clergy bus tour of the Gulf Coast.
Rev. Dr. Marcus D. Cosby
Senior Pastor, Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church
Rev. Cosby hosted the National Katrina Justice Commission hearing at his church in Houston. An activist preacher, he is a member of the Board of Directors of Interfaith Ministries for Greater Houston; the Home Mission Board of the National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc. and the Houston Area Urban League.
Rev. Dr. Frederick D. Haynes, III
Senior Pastor, Friendship-West Baptist Church
As Co-Chair of the Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference, Rev. Haynes was heavily involved with the Katrina Justice Commission. Under his leadership, church membership has grown from 500 to more than 8,000. A popular guest preacher, his progressive, Bible-based message has reached millions of people around the world.
Rev. Dr. Cynthia L. Hale
Founder and Senior Pastor, Ray of Hope Christian Church
As Co-Chair of the Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference, Rev. Hale was heavily involved with the Katrina Justice Commission.. Ray of Hope has been honored as Church of the Week, by the 700 Club, and as one of 300 excellent Protestant congregations in the United States.
Rev. Portia Wills Lee
Founder and Senior Pastor, Trinity Tabernacle Baptist Church
Rev. Wills Lee was a Commissioner at the Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference National Katrina Justice Commission hearings in Washington, DC and New Orleans. In the seven years since its organization, Trinity has experienced tremendous growth in its Christian witness, community involvement and membership.
Rev. Wallace Smith
Senior Pastor, Shiloh Baptist Church
Rev. Smith is leading a Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference Commemorative Day of Worship service at the Shiloh Baptist Church in Washington, DC on Sunday, August 27. With a membership of over 4,000 persons, Shiloh is one of the oldest African American churches in Washington, and its congregation has a long history of community outreach and family empowering ministries.
Rev. Joseph Jackson
Senior Pastor, Evergreen Baptist Church
Co-Chair, Milwaukee Innercity Congregations Allied for Hope
Rev. Jackson is a Founder of the Gamaliel African American Leadership Conference (AALC), and he participated in the â€œDrowning on Dry Landâ€? clergy bus tour of the Gulf Coast. His observations were featured last week in a Tennessean column.
Rev. Dr. Susan K. Smith
Senior Pastor, Advent United Church of Christ
Rev. Smith is a Trustee of the Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference and Chair of the Katrina Justice Commission. She has ministered to countless people throughout the world.
Faith in Public Life strengthens the effectiveness, collaboration, and reach of faith movements that share a call to pursue justice and the common good.
Black clergy tour Katrina damage
Group to demand federal recovery help
Thursday, August 17, 2006
By Valerie Faciane
A national group of black clergy and lay leaders touring the storm-ravaged Gulf Coast said Wednesday that they will demand the federal government release money for rebuilding.
Standing outside the flood-damaged Mount Nebo Bible Baptist Church on Flood Street in the Lower 9th Ward, members of the Gamaliel Foundation’s African American Leadership Commission said they are on a fact-finding mission, dubbed the “Drowning on Dry Land/Connecting Covenant Visit,” to learn how they can provide continuing support to the people of the Gulf Coast, particularly the poor.
“We’re here to support the faith community, allies and organizations in their ongoing Katrina/Rita restoration strategies,” said the Rev. Joseph Jackson Jr., pastor of Evergreen Missionary Baptist Church of Milwaukee, Wis., and co-chairman of the commission. “We’re here visiting with clergy, public policy and public officials to pursue a unified national strategy for releasing all of the resources — real money — to rebuild the Gulf Coast and, more importantly, the people.”
The Gamaliel Foundation is an organizing network of more than 60 affiliates in 21 states in America and five provinces in South Africa, according to its Web site, www.gamaliel.org. The foundation represents more than a million multifaith, multiracial church people who work on social justice campaigns. The African American Leadership Commission comprises mostly black clergy and lay leaders whose mission is to address issues and concerns of the black community.
One member of the tour, Deacon Gerry Hughley of Cincinnati, Ohio, said he couldn’t believe the devastation left by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. “This is blowing me away,” he said. “This is a year later. I’m really blown away by that.”
The Rev. Sharon Smith of East St. Louis, Ill., treasurer of the AALC, said the commission “needed to come to New Orleans.” She said the AALC has been “agitated” by the “outrageous inadequacy of our government’s action in response, recovery and restoration.”
Smith said the AALC stands ready to go to Washington, D.C., to demand that the federal government rebuild the Gulf Coast. Storm survivors are weary and losing faith in the government, she said, and “it is time for the church and the people of faith beyond the Gulf Coast . . . to come together in faith rebuilding the Gulf Coast. We stand with and for the survivors of Katrina and Rita,” Smith said.
This is what Mount Nebo’s pastor, the Rev. Charles Duplessis, wanted to hear. He said he needs help to rebuild the church he has led for the past 19 years.
“I believe these are people of integrity,” Duplessis said. “They didn’t have to come here. My faith says they are going to do something.”
Duplessis, who also lost his Lower 9th Ward home, is temporarily living in Tuskegee, Ala. He said he wants to rebuild his church but plans to put up a tent on its grounds to resume services as soon as the land is cleared.
He said he is part of a group called Churches Supporting Churches, a program that will partner 36 local churches with 360 national and international churches to rebuild Gulf Coast communities and their places of worship.
The Rev. Marvin Turner, pastor of Mount Arart Missionary Baptist Church at 2525 First St., also was encouraged by the AALC’s visit. His church suffered wind damage and minor flooding, but the cost of repairs has exhausted nearly all the church’s money.
He said it is important that churches be rebuilt because they are “the central building block of the black community.”
Commission members also are scheduled to visit Biloxi, Miss., and Baton Rouge. On Friday the Rev. Dwight Webster, pastor of Christian Unity Baptist Church in New Orleans, will be the keynote speaker at a closing dinner.
To observe the first anniversary of the storm, the ministers also are requesting that clergy nationwide commemorate Katrina this Sunday and Aug. 27 by urging their congregations to make the rebuilding effort a movement.
For information on the AALC, visit www.gamaliel.org/AALC.
Ten months after Katrina, witnesses tell panel New Orleans is neither recovered nor ready to face another natural disaster
By ARMANDO VILLAFRANCA
July 28, 2006
Joe Givens’ mother wakes up each morning to a view of total destruction from a window in her trailer in New Orlean’s 9th Ward. The view is still there when she goes to bed at night, but she doesn’t bother to look out her window because she knows it will still be there in the morning.
“For me and my family, we are still (figuratively) on the rooftops in New Orleans,” said Givens, of Atlanta-based Churches Supporting Churches.
Givens, who lost his New Orleans home when the levees broke during Hurricane Katrina, said street after street in the 9th Ward is riddled with piles of furniture and other reminders of a former life.
Eleven months after the storm, he said, it appears as if little has changed.
Givens was among a handful of Katrina evacuees who testified Thursday before the Katrina National Justice Commission, whose job is to document where the local, state and federal response to Katrina has failed or succeeded.
The commission is an independent body of black clergy and community activists investigating the disaster. The commission held its first round of hearings in Washington, D.C., and New Orleans earlier this month.
The hearings in Houston will be the last. They resume today at Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church.
“The testimonies that we’re hearing are crucial because we’re getting both the stories of the evacuees and the institutions who try to make a difference,” said the Rev. Barbara Headley, commission member and senior pastor of Faith Congregational Church in Hartford, Conn.
“The purpose of the commission is not to point fingers at what failed,” she said. “We’re trying to look at what worked, what didn’t work and what we’re going to have to do in the future.”
Nicholas Cooper-Lewter, a sociology professor at the University of South Carolina serving on the commission, said the testimony has shown that no one, at any level, was prepared to handle the kind of destruction left in the wake of Katrina.
What’s more worrisome, he said, was the lack of long-term planning.
“A natural disaster at this level is an opportunity for us to put aside our petty differences and work together to fulfill the ideals that this country was founded on,” he said. “So the silver lining of this very terrible tragedy is that this opportunity has presented itself.”
The Rev. Joseph R. Wilson, associate pastor at St. John’s United Methodist Church in Houston, said that when he returns to New Orleans he finds people living in trailers in debris-filled streets and government offices still closed.
“Things in New Orleans are not moving as fast as people had hoped,” he said. “Even though the call is out for people to come back to New Orleans, New Orleans is a difficult place to be right now.”
Nor does he think the city is safe because, he says, officials there are not prepared for another storm. He said the city, in its current state, is not a place to start over and that many people like himself have opted not to return.
“New Orleans needs to be federalized for a period of time because the city and state are not prepared for another disaster,” he said.
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