A Paradigm Shift

Our Mobilization to End Poverty this spring brought together nearly 1,200 Christian leaders and grassroots activists from around the country committed to overcoming poverty. The various presentations—both the inspirational plenary sessions and the in-depth training workshops—were widely praised as excellent.

Morning Bible studies and three nights of uplifting worship with soul-deepening music and powerful preaching by Rep. John Lewis, Rev. Frederick Haynes, and Bishop Vashti McKenzie helped us remember why we were there. Awards were given to exemplary grassroots activists Rachel Anderson, Lisa Sharon Harper, and Alexie Torres-Fleming and national media figure Tavis Smiley, all of whom embody the crucial pursuit of economic and racial justice.

President Obama sent a personal video thanking the activists for coming to Washington and for what they do back home. 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.

The next day we went to Capitol Hill. Faith leaders got appointments in the offices of 84 senators and 213 representatives! 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 Congress came to speak to us, including Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.

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Sojourners Magazine July 2009
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