Fifty people gathered in Washington on December 7 for Call to Renewals Fourth National Roundtable of Christian leaders, and it resulted in an exciting consensus about Call to Renewals future. Just by gracing a common table, they embodied the Calls vision: Diverse Christians putting aside their differences to focus on overcoming poverty in this richest of lands.
The group included representatives of the U.S. Catholic Conference, Progressive National Baptist Convention, National Association of Evangelicals, National Council of Churches, United Methodist Church, Evangelical Lutheran Church, Habitat for Humanity, World Vision, Christian Reformed Church, Reorganized Church of Latter Day Saints, and the Assemblies of God. Also represented were Bread for the World, Jesuit Volunteer Corps, Evangelicals for Social Action, Christian Community Development Association, and Public/Private Ventures, among others.
They had before them a draft document to review and discuss. Titled "A Covenant with Americas Poor," it came out of work done by the Calls Policy Team, a group of researchers and academics chaired by the University of Pennsylvanias John DiIulio and Ron Sider of Evangelicals for Social Action, and contained policy ideas to inject into the 2000 political campaign year.
Roundtable participants lost no time jumping into a spirited debate about the meaning of "covenant," the content of the document, its purpose, and the tone it should take. By the end of the day, a consensus had emerged that energized participants and staff alike. As later ratified by the Calls board, there will now be a shorter covenant, substantially the same as the one being used to recruit individuals to become Call members. All national partners and local affiliates will be asked to sign it. (The covenant can be found on the Calls Web site.)