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Poor No More
To his disciples, Jesus simply said, "follow me." That was an invitation, not a requirement, because an invitation respects the freedom of the invitee to accept or decline. An invitation was extended to the country to come to "Poor No More," the fourth annual National Summit on the Churches and Poverty.
In response to the invitation, more than 550 pastors, lay people, service-providing ministries, community development organizations, and representatives of human services departments gathered at National City Christian Church and the historic Luther Place Memorial Church in Washington, D.C., for three days of worship, prayer, reflection, learning, and sharing.
Conference participants heard powerful messages of hope and determination, from the first evening's opening service led by Harvard University's William Julius Wilson and Rev. James Forbes, Senior Pastor at Riverside Church in New York, to the closing sermons on the conference's last day by Rev. Wallace Charles Smith of Shiloh Baptist Church in Washington, D.C., Noel Castellanos of the La Villita Community Church in Chicago, and Mary Nelson of Chicago's Bethel New Life. Rev. Skip Long, national director of Jobs Partnership, blessed our souls with a creative spin on the Good Samaritan story titled "The Measure of Your Mercy."
Conference goers were also blessed with the joyful noise of song. The opening ceremony had music by Washington, D.C.'s Shiloh Baptist Church Youth Choir and by Darren Ferguson, of Exodus Transitional Community in the Bronx, who was observing the first anniversary of his ordination. Ferguson lifted us up throughout the summit with traditional music, some of which he composed. The trio Divine Blessings (which consists of Rev. Donna Sandiford, Roberta Blair, and Sojourners own Rachel Spaght) blessed us for yet another year with their harmony and interpretation of God's word through their music. Throughout the three days, Ken Medema-utilizing styles from classical to rock and ballads to blues-thoroughly engaged and inspired his audiences. The conference closed with two very strong and stirring renditions from the Call to Renewal "Poor No More" conference choir, which was directed by Sandiford in its first-and only appearance.