The Common Good
January-February 2000

Making Poverty a Campaign Issue

by Alice J. Burnette Davis | January-February 2000

CTR readies for approaching Summit.

A New Policy Team. This fall Call to Renewal gathered a group of experts on poverty and economics to help us formulate policy proposals to successfully combat poverty. Those who gathered in October—John DiIulio, Ron Thiemann, Ron Sider, and Wendell Primus—are part of a larger group who will regularly advise the Call on policy issues. The Call’s policy advisory group also includes such notable experts as Mary Jo Bane, Richard Parker, Brent Coffin, William Julius Wilson, Rebecca Blank, Marshall Ganz, J. Bryan Hehir, Donald Miller, and Paul Simon.

Roundtable on poverty. We convened in December the Call’s Christian Roundtable on Poverty, where we presented the recommendations from our policy advisory team to leaders of a diverse group of national denominations and church-related organizations. Representatives from World Vision, the U.S. Catholic Conference, the National Association of Evangelicals, the historic black churches, mainline denominations, and many others were there. They focused on the agenda created by the policy team and reached a historic agreement to support a "Covenant to Overcome Poverty." This covenant is now the focus of our effort to get poverty in the national election-year debate.

annual summit, feb.13-16. The Call’s annual Summit, "Poor No More: A National Summit on the Churches and Poverty," will take place February 13-16. We plan to use this Summit to bring new vision, organization, and inspiration to our campaign to overcome poverty. At the Summit, we’ll present the "Covenant to Overcome Poverty" to the presidential candidates, whom we’ve invited.

The Summit plenary sessions will explore "What Will it Take to Overcome Poverty?" "What Will It Take to Get, and Keep, Poverty on the National Agenda?" and "How to Activate Our Churches." Invited speakers include John DiIulio, Rev. Eugene Rivers, Mary Jo Bane, Mary Nelson, Rev. Wallace Charles Smith, Noel Castellanos, Leah Gaskin-Fitchue, Wes Granberg-Michaelson, Peter Borgdorff, Sharon Daley, Michael Mata, Rich Stearns, and Diana Jones Wilson. And of course, Jim Wallis will be there to present his vision for Call to Renewal.

Summit workshops are shaping up in an exciting way. They include The Growing Income and Wealth Gap; Race and Poverty; Rebuilding Community Through Christian Community Development Associations; Church-based Job Training Programs; Churches and Charitable Choice; and Rescuing our Children from the Streets.

Invited workshop speakers include Chuck Collins of United for a Fair Economy; Bob Greenstein of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities; Rev. Skip Long of the Jobs Partnership; Tyrone Parker of the Alliance of Concerned Men; Dr. Stanley Carlson-Thies of the Center for Public Justice; and Dr. Gloria White-Hammond of Bethel A.M.E. in Boston.

We’ll also present information on Jubilee 2000, living wage campaigns, and how to get funding for your organization. We’ll offer special opportunities for Summit attendees to network and meet in special affinity groups. In addition, we’ll have time to pray and worship together, and we’ll be inspired through great gospel music, inspirational preaching, and the lively, unmatchable style of Ken Medema. And most important, we’ll present the "Covenant to Overcome Poverty" to the many church and community organization leaders who will be attending. Then we’ll help to equip them to make their voices heard on Capitol Hill and in their state and local arenas.

We hope you’ll join us in February at the National City Christian Church and Luther Place Memorial Church in Washington, D.C. We’ve started a drive to increase the number of individuals, churches, and faith-based organizations in our federation. Please contact us for information about how you can become a part of the Call’s federation. We would like for you to join our efforts, and share the joy of this journey with us.

ALICE DAVIS is national organizer for Call to Renewal, 2401 15th St. NW; Washington, DC 20009; (202) 328-8745; ctr@calltorenewal.com; or www.calltorenewal.com.

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