A Table in the Wilderness

As last year’s welfare legislation continues to take effect around the country, hungry and homeless people are showing up on the steps of our churches and organizations. Our time and resources are being stretched.

Psalm 78:19 tells that the Israelites, weary from their journey, their faith waning, asked: "Can God spread a table in the wilderness?" The answer came as God "rained down on them manna to eat, and gave them the grain of heaven."

As we struggle in the wilderness of a country that seems to have lost its way, we ask the same question. And we see that since Call to Renewal was formed, new tables have been spread in the wilderness. In the midst of a society that increasingly seems to demonize the poor, deny racism, destroy family, and devalue life, these tables are bringing people together across old divisions:

• People developing new projects and partnerships—with government and business, and directly with people living in poverty.

• People committed to new ways of overcoming poverty, dismantling racism, rebuilding family and community, and affirming life.

These tables came together in 30 states on Pentecost Sunday, in a witness and action with those who are poor. Another table came together in Philadelphia on April 26 at the Christian Roundtable on Poverty and Welfare Reform.

Building on these events, the second annual Call to Renewal national conference will be held on Friday and Saturday, October 17-18, at the Washington National Airport Hilton in Arlington, Virginia.

This will be the opportunity for local tables to come together for a time of meeting others, sharing ideas and successes, and training to continue mobilizing the network.

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Sojourners Magazine September-October 1997
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