The Call to Renewal National Forum on Faith and Politics, in Washington, D.C., September 13-15, is rapidly coming together. It promises to be an important and significant event. Registrations are arriving and speakers are being confirmed. If you have not already done so, we urge you to make plans to attend. Your presence is crucial. It will show the nation there is a new movement of Christian political commitment, and it will be inspiring and educational for those in attendance.
As part of the National Forum, a Friday evening worship and prayer service for national civility is being planned at the National Cathedral. We have invited Ralph Reed of the Christian Coalition and a representative from Focus on the Family to participate with us in this service. While we do not agree on all political issues, we want to affirm the need for civility in our national dialogue. A joint service seeking God's guidance in the final days of the political campaigns will send a powerful message to the country that Christians are trying to"get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice..." (Ephesians 4:31).
Following the National Forum, Jim Wallis will go on the road, combining the promotional tour for his new book, Who Speaks for God?, with Call to Renewal town meetings and regional conferences. September 16 through November 1 Jim will be in 25 cities, often with two or three events in each city.
The message he will bring to these events is this: Our problem is not just a Religious Right that often claims to speak for all religious people. It is also the mostly liberal secularists who want to keep any religious or spiritual concerns out of politics altogether. Their anti-religious bias is often as rigid and intolerant as the opposing bias of the Christian fundamentalists on the other side. These have become our false choices: hollow secularism or right-wing religion. Many people are hungry for an alternative; the good news is that there is one.
That alternative is the theme of Who Speaks for God? and the work of the Call to Renewal: the need for a renewed sense of compassion, community, and civility in our national life. It is particularly important for Christians to lead the way in upholding these principles, rather than being the source of divisiveness in our political life. A new vision based on this renewal could transform the nation by moving beyond old labels and ideologies to build a network of Christian social concern.
The tour includes book-signing events in local bookstores, evening town meetings, weekend regional conferences, and Sunday morning preaching in local churches. It is an ambitious plan and schedule that will bring the Call to Renewal message to millions of people.
A recent meeting of the Call to Renewal coordinating committee outlined a strategy for next year that will focus on popular education on faith and politics, developing new public policy from the grassroots, initiating national campaigns on targeted issues, and facilitating the creation of local networks. We are moving beyond simply being an alternative voice to the Religious Right to bringing people together who can create a new politics in local communities.
Call to Renewal national and regional conferences will be held during September and October in the following locations:
Other tour dates and locations for the Who Speaks for God tour:
Check your local paper for information on the event in your area. And as Jim begins this extensive tour, we ask that you remember him in prayer. Your support and your prayers are central to the success of these events and to all of our work.
Sojourners is an active participant in the Call to Renewal network, providing leadership and organizing support. Contact Call to Renewal, c/o Sojourners, 2401 15th St. NW, Washington, DC 20009; (202) 328-8842.