On the first Pentecost, the Spirit of God descended upon the believers gathered in Jerusalem and they began speaking about God's powerful deeds. That empowerment brought about the creation of the church, and the believers went into the streets proclaiming the gospel and forming a new community. That Spirit is with us still, and empowers us to renew our commitment to justice and to proclaim good news to the poor.
The Call to Renewal is calling for actions around the country on Pentecost Sunday, May 18, to affirm that we as a society are responsible for how we treat the most vulnerable among us. The call is for churches to gather in their houses of worship, pray to be empowered by the Spirit, and then go to state capitols, municipal buildings, and other appropriate locations to witness on behalf of those who are poor. Those gathered will report on the welfare plans of their stateevaluating the plans adequacy to meet the needs of those who are poorand speak to the responsibilities of church and government.
Religious leaders and service providers are deeply concerned about the aftermath of federal welfare legislation that will cut people off from assistance programs with no provisions for work and with no accountability on how block grant funds will be allocated. Congress and the president responded to the critical need for fundamental reform of the welfare system with welfare repeal, and fairness, justice, and compassion are in danger of being swept aside. Many fear that a social disaster is in the making.
The religious community is now called upon to provide the moral accountability that is lacking. We need to advocate for just state legislation, and we can lead in finding new ways of overcoming poverty.