When we heard the weather report predicting another snow storm on its way to Washington, D.C., our hearts sank. The Call to Renewal organizing conference was about to begin in the nation's capital and those of us planning it worried that people slated to attend from around the country might be dissuaded by the forecast. But on Friday morning, February 2, the large meeting room at the Capitol Hill Holiday Inn quickly filled up, and smiles returned to the organizers' faces.This first national gathering of the Call to Renewal was announced as a "working conference," a time to train, organize, and mobilize for the election year. The purpose of the Call to Renewal during 1996 is twofold: to lift up a visible Christian alternative to the Religious Right and to lay the foundations for a "new politics" rooted in spiritual values beyond the old categories of Right and Left. More than 200 key grassroots activists from every region of the United States braved the snow and came ready to work. They included evangelical pastors and the founders of successful church-based urban programs; diocesan social action directors and Catholic sisters in social service ministries; conveners of local coalitions and leaders of national networks such as the Christian Community Development Association (with more than 250 affiliates in 100 cities), Pax Christi, Bread for the World, Evangelicals for Social Action, SCUPE (the largest urban ministry network in the country), InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, The Leadership Foundations (building faith-based partnerships in 21 cities); and more. Pentecostal preachers from the streets and the head of a mainline denomination attended, as did representatives from local councils of churches and Christians from every walk of life eager to mobilize a voice other than the Christian Coalition.
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