There were some remarkable outcomes to last week's Mobilization to End Poverty, with nearly 50 sponsors and partners. The week's events brought together Christian leaders and grassroots activists committed to overcoming poverty -- both domestically and internationally. Here are some of the statistics from the event: There were 1,153 people who attended, from 44 states (and The District of Columbia) and six countries. The quality of the various presentations at the Mobilization was widely praised as excellent-both the inspirational plenary sessions and the in depth training workshops. Morning Bible studies were led by John Perkins and Vincent Harding, and there were three nights of uplifting worship with powerful preaching by Rep. John Lewis, Pastor Freddie Haynes, and Bishop Vashti McKenzie, and music by Martin Smith and Vicky Beeching. Awards were given to exemplary grassroots activists and to national figures, such as Tavis Smiley, who are willing to speak out on the crucial issues of economic and racial justice.
We all know how busy President Obama's schedule is, but he was kind enough to send a personal video, which was presented the first morning of the Mobilization, thanking the activists from the faith community for coming to Washington and for what they do back home. To further highlight the administration's sense of the importance of the event, the video was followed by a panel discussion with top White House staff working on the anti-poverty agenda, including the Director of the Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships, Joshua DuBois; the administration's point person on poverty, Martha Coven; and Special Adviser for Green Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Van Jones, who showed that he is still a preacher despite now being part of a presidential administration.
The next day we went to Capitol Hill for an advocacy day. Faith leaders got appointments in the offices of 82 senators and 210 representatives! That is almost unheard of for one group in one day. Our advocacy teams urged Congress to commit to reducing poverty by half in the next 10 years, fully funding the foreign assistance budget, and supporting health care reform. At a rousing afternoon rally, five members of the Senate or House came to speak to us, including the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi.
The diversity of the participants was also encouraging in many ways. Twenty-four denominations and dozens of faith-based organizations were represented from across the spectrum