Presbyterians Today

FEB-MAR 2018

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10 FEBRUARY/MARCH 2018 | Pr e s by te r i a n s To d ay JUST LIVING What does the Lord require of you? Presbyterians are answering that prophetic question, working for justice and seeking to help their neighbors in a variety of ways. Presbyterians Today shares their stories. for Religions, Rights and Social Justice at Union Theological Seminary; and scores of local and national grassroots groups across the country. — Gregg Brekke Poor People's report available online A preliminary report on the plight of the poor in America, "The Poor People's Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival," is available at poorpeoplescampaign.org/index.php/audit. Interfaith festival builds community The religious leaders in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, have been intentional about building something very important to them: community. Each fall, they gather together in what has now become a much-anticipated — and growing — event called the Interfaith Festival of Gratitude. Last November, the festival celebrated its eighth year with more than 250 people, speaking 20 lan- guages, piling into the The Grand in downtown Oshkosh to share faith and to learn about the wide variety of religious traditions in their community. The Rev. Dr. Thomas C. Willadsen, pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Oshkosh, began the festival with the words of Desmond Tutu, saying, "Hope is nurtured in relationships and community." Representatives from 14 faith communities took the stage, where they sang, danced, chanted and played music to help those in attendance experience their faith tradition. A musical group from St. Raphael the Archangel Roman Catholic Church used 14 languages to express perhaps the most universal human emotion: gratitude. The festival was preceded by a potluck hosted by the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community. Many community members brought foods from their ethnic or religious traditions to share with nearly 150 hungry people. Faith leaders affirm call to serve the poor The Rev. T. Denise Anderson, co-moderator of the 222nd General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), added her voice to the many faith leaders who gathered in Washington, D.C., in December for the launch of the Poor People's Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival. Owing its name to the Poor People's Campaign instituted 50 years ago by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the call seeks to unite "tens of thousands of people across the country to challenge the evils of systemic racism, poverty, the war economy, eco- logical devastation and the nation's distorted morality." "At our 222nd General Assembly (2016), the PC(USA) made a number of social justice commitments to include measures to dismantle racism, to address climate change and to engage with a new civil rights movement," Anderson said, noting the overture from the Presbytery of the Cascades that "called on choosing to be a church committed to the gospel of Matthew 25." Organizers of the campaign said they will draw on the unfinished work of the 1968 Poor People's Campaign, reigniting the effort led by civil rights orga- nizations, labor, tenant unions, farmworkers, Native American elders and grassroots organizers to foster a moral revolution of values. Expected to be a multiyear effort, the campaign will intensify starting Mother's Day 2018, with six weeks of direct action and civil disobedience across at least 25 states and the District of Columbia, leading up to a mass mobilization at the U.S. Capitol June 21. Each week will focus on a different injustice, beginning with child poverty, and will include specific policy goals and a voter education program to advance a moral agenda at the state and federal levels. The Poor People's Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival is co-organized by Repairers of the Breach, a social justice organization; the Kairos Center T. Denise Anderson speaks at the launch event for the Poor People's Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival in Washington, D.C. Hindu music was part of the Interfaith Festival.

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