More than 10,000 labor, environmental, and social justice activists from across the country converged on Atlanta in late June for the first U.S. Social Forum. The USSF is an offspring of the 7-year-old World Social Forum, which began as a response to the World Economic Forum. Allison Budschalow of the American Friends Service Committee, a member of the USSF's national planning committee, told Sojourners that issues of faith intersected with all of the forum's primary themes—militarism, Hurricane Katrina, immigration, and indigenous and workers' rights.
However, few intentional spaces were made for people of faith to meet on these issues outside of a handful of forum workshops (among the more than 900 offered over the five days) and an interfaith worship service, even though several local churches provided workshop space to the USSF. "There wasn't as much specific outreach to the faith community as we would have liked, because so much outreach work was focused on youth and immigrant communities," said Budschalow. "Hopefully, we can increase the faith outreach for [the next U.S. Social Forum in] 2010."
Colin Mathewson is the communications/media intern at Sojourners/Call to Renewal.