The Common Good

Taking the Vision to the Streets

Sojomail - April 26, 2007

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"From where do I get my hope? From the people of this place, and those Israeli/Palestinian peace activists who believe passionately that given justice and equality for all its citizens, peace and human security is possible in this holy land. I take hope, too, from the courage of the young Israeli reservists who, following their conscience, have refused military duty in the territories. ... I have watched, too, those in the resistance movements who believe justice will only come through violence, and in their frustration, pain, and anger have turned to armed resistance, suicide bombs. Suicide bombs tragically take the life of those who use them, and have taken the lives of many Israeli people, and others, and such actions can never be justified. I would therefore like to appeal to those who use such violence, (including those who use the threat of violence by calling for the destruction of Israel) to abandon these immoral and illegal methods, and use nonviolent language and means of working for justice and freedom."

- Mairead Corrigan Maguire, who received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1976 for her work as co-founder of the Community of Peace People in Northern Ireland, speaking to a nonviolence conference in the West Bank. Later that same day, during a nonviolent protest against Israel's separation barrier, she was shot in the leg with a rubber-coated steel bullet by Israeli soldiers. (Source: God's Politics blog)

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Taking the Vision to the Streets

I want to personally invite you to Washington, D.C., on June 3-6 to participate in Pentecost 2007: Taking the Vision to the Streets. I'm asking you to come because this is not just another conference: This will be an important step in a campaign aimed at the critical presidential election year of 2008. What is the plan? We hope to do nothing less than put poverty on the national agenda, and challenge candidates from both parties to present the nation with their plans for dramatic poverty reduction both at home and globally. I believe we can really make a difference, but only if we are all in it together.

Last year, we launched "From Poverty to Opportunity: A Covenant for a New America," a powerful tool for breaking the liberal-conservative paralysis on poverty, transcending the frozen ideological debate that traps the poor between false alternatives, calling the nation to a results-based program, and moving us all to higher ground. This year, we will take the Covenant to a new level by calling on our national leaders to put poverty near the top of the political agenda.

Taking the Vision to the Streets begins with a Sunday night revival, where I will share the preaching with Rev. Sam Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, and Rev. Freddie Haynes, senior pastor of Friendship-West Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas. We will also have inspiring gospel music to lift our souls for the work ahead.

A panel of church leaders and activists, including Brian McLaren, Sam Rodriguez, Rich Nathan, and Shane Claiborne will lead a discussion on "How to Put Poverty on the Agenda of your Local Church." Marshall Ganz will lead an Organizing Institute to give you practical skills for putting poverty on the agenda.

We’ll be giving our 6th annual Amos and Joseph Awards. This year’s "Amos," a person who faithfully uses a position of influence to benefit those in poverty, is Gary Haugen, president of International Justice Mission, a human rights agency that rescues victims of violence, sexual exploitation, slavery, and oppression. Our "Joseph," a person who comes from a humble background to serve God and community, is Rev. Romal Tune, president of Clergy Strategic Alliances, which works to equip pastors and congregations with the skills necessary to build power and improve their communities.

And, in its fourth year now, our Emerging Leaders program (for faith-inspired activists younger than 30) may be one of the most exciting offerings of the conference. It includes a special evening moderated by Christa Mazzone. Here, young leaders have the opportunity to establish relationships that could last a lifetime as we all seek to build a new movement.

We are also finishing the details on our presidential candidates forum on faith, values, and poverty. I’ll have an exciting announcement tomorrow about who will be joining us; you don’t want to miss it.

As a participant, you will join workshops and seminars offering very practical training in how to use the Covenant, develop organizing skills, learn how to do effective media work, round out your knowledge of the issues, deepen your understanding of "prophetic advocacy," and network with other faith-based advocates, especially from your region.

Click here to learn more about Pentecost 2007, June 3 - 6 in Washington, D.C.!

Pentecost 2007 is the next step in a campaign that will last through the 2008 election year season and beyond - don't miss this important event.

Vote with your feet. Take the vision to the streets. Show up to make a difference. Tell the media, by your presence, that the faith community cares about our neighbors in poverty. Tell your political representatives the kind of leadership that you expect from them - we'll set up the appointments for you. And there will be a Capitol Hill reception, like last year, at which both Democratic and Republican leaders will speak.

So do come. And bring some friends. Send this invitation to others. Bring a delegation from your community, church, or school. Drive if you live a day's drive away or less, or make your plane reservations today.

Click here to register for Pentecost 2007.

We need you to sign up right away: Make a statement about your faith and its implications. Washington needs to hear from you, and we need your help and support. See you soon!
And stay tuned for the exciting announcement tomorrow on our presidential forum.


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Mairead Corrigan Maguire: Nobel Peace Laureate Shot with Israeli Rubber-coated Steel Bullet
On Friday, April 20, outside Ramallah, Palestine, Ann Patterson and I attended the Second Bil’in International Conference on Non-violence. We joined the Bil’in Popular Committee on their weekly nonviolent protest march to the Israeli "apartheid wall" to bring attention to the wall that separates Palestinians from their land and, in this case, cedes land to expand Jewish settlements in the area. Together with Israeli peace activists and internationalists from more than 20 countries, we made the trek to the wall. The internationals came from France, the United States, Puerto Rico, Spain, Switzerland, Ireland, Belgium, Britain, Germany, Italy, New Zealand, Canada, and India. It was at the "security wall" that I was shot with a rubber-coated steel bullet and gassed by Israeli Defense Forces. Watch the video.

Diana Butler Bass: 'Elaborate Lies'
But how does a democracy create a necessary climate for ordinary folks to kill or be willing to be killed? Well, it appears that they sometimes have to lie. And it isn’t just the "big" lies about cooking military intelligence for war – those lies can be much smaller. Take the cases of Pat Tillman and Jessica Lynch, two soldiers whose stories were "hyped" by someone (that’s what the congressional panel is trying to determine) who apparently wanted to deflect attention away from the less-glamorous aspects of American action in Iraq (including, evidently, the Abu Ghraib torture scandal). The image of the good soldier motivates heroism, giving people a reason to kill and die. Heroes are necessary for war.

Nontando Hadebe: Where is Christ in Zimbabwe's Crisis?
The crisis in Zimbabwe has become the crisis of the church. How can we, as Christians and Zimbabweans, be the church in this context? When the apostle Paul describes the church in 1 Corinthians 12, he uses the metaphor of the body in order to capture the relatedness, interdependence, and diversity of the church. I want to pick up just two aspects of Paul’s description of the church in my discussion on the current role of the church in Zimbabwe. The two verses I want to focus on are verse 17 ("If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be?") and verse 26 ("If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it").

Ryan Rodrick Beiler: Christianity Today Challenges Dobson's Hard Line
Readers of this blog already know about the letter from James Dobson, et al., attacking Richard Cizik of the National Association of Evangelicals for his activism on global warming. Bloggers Brian McLaren, Lyndsay Moseley, Bill McKibben, and Randall Balmer all rallied to Cizik's defense, and Jim Wallis' invitation to Dobson for a debate on the "great moral issues of our time" still stands. What's also significant – and greatly encouraging – is that Christianity Today, the flagship publication of mainstream evangelicalism, has now also made a strong editorial statement criticizing Dobson's tactics and defending Cizik.

Senator Tim Mathern: Red State Passes Peace Resolution
I've been told that some Americans can't find North Dakota on the map. We can be considered backward (like some of the folks in the movie Fargo), which is untrue. Our state legislature recently passed North Dakota's own Peace Resolution (Senate Concurrent Resolution 4022), a progressive piece of legislation that has thrived in this red state. The resolution calls for the pursuit of peace in Iraq and Afghanistan. It voices support for our troops, urging their return - with or without a successful conclusion of their efforts.

Francis Ng’ambi: A Sabbath Year in Africa
I come from South Africa. I’m working for the Economic Justice Network, which is a network of church organizations in 11 countries. We are working on debt, development, aid, and trade. This year is going to be a special year for us because it’s seven years after the Jubilee [movement] was formed; for us it’s a Sabbath year whereby we want to renew our commitment to fighting for debt cancellation. Debt is one of the biggest problems in southern Africa. There are some countries that are paying up to 50 percent of their budget just to service foreign debt. There are other countries that have received debt relief, and some have received 100 percent debt cancellation. But we still see that there are problems, and fundamental questions that we need to answer. And as churches, we need to bring in more values from the churches about the whole issue of debt.

Jim Wallis: Abortion - From Symbol to Substance
It’s time for concrete action that would actually and seriously reduce the number of abortions in America. A better approach than the symbolic legal battle would be to gather new energy for a commitment to advancing real solutions. A constructive dialogue should include how best to prevent unwanted pregnancies, support pregnant women who find themselves in an unexpected situation, and effectively reduce the abortion rate. ... It’s time that both pro-life and pro-choice supporters come together and support these measures, and actually do something serious and substantial in reducing the number of unwanted pregnancies and dramatically reducing the abortion rate. Who could be against that? Let’s indeed save unborn lives. It’s time to move from symbols to substance.

Adam Taylor: For God’s Sake, Save Darfur! End the Politics of Delay
After four years of protracted bloodshed and unbearable suffering, a degree of cynicism is justified in reaction to the recent promise by the Khartoum government to allow 3,000 U.N. military personnel to enter Darfur. This critical action would complete phase two of a desperately needed – and long overdue – three-phase process toward deploying a more robust, hybrid United Nations and African Union peacekeeping force to prevent further killing and restore security to the beleaguered region. This concession repeats an all too familiar cycle, in which President Bashir plays a manipulative game of deterrence with the international community, making new promises as soon as the world’s patience starts running out or the United States and other nations reach the brink of taking punitive action. There will be no quick fixes or easy solutions. But where the politics of delay have failed, the power of our movement calling for bold leadership will succeed.


Organize! Mobilize!

Join us at Pentecost 2007: Taking the Vision to the Streets and learn the skills to bring out the activist in you! This year we are inaugurating the Organizing Institute led by Adam Taylor, Sojourners Director of Campaigns and Organizing, and Marshall Ganz of Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. You'll have the opportunity to learn basic skills for putting poverty at the top of the political agenda - just in time for the upcoming elections!

Click here to learn more about Pentecost 2007, June 3 - 6 in Washington, D.C.!

For more than 10 years, Sojourners/Call to Renewal has been convening and mobilizing church leaders, lay leaders, social service providers, and activists young and old from across the ecumenical spectrum to build a movement to overcome poverty through our annual Pentecost mobilization. Join us this June and be a part of the movement!

Click here to register for Pentecost 2007


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