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NCC's Edgar, at White House, Welcomes New Director

            February 1, 2002, WASHINGTON, D.C. – National Council of Churches General Secretary Robert W. Edgar welcomed today’s presentation of a new director for the White House Office of Community and Faith-Based Initiatives and President Bush’s recognition of the importance of collaborative work to meet needs of people in poverty.

            Dr. Edgar was among religious and civic leaders present at the White House this morning for the President’s introduction of the new director, Jim Towey.  Others assembled included the Rev. Dr. Wesley Granberg-Michaelson, General Secretary of the Reformed Church in America (one of the NCC’s 36 member communions), along with leaders of the Salvation Army, Roman Catholic Church and Jewish community and of groups including Independent Sector and the United Way.

            The NCC general secretary said he would commend to President Bush and Mr. Towey the work done by the broadly bipartisan Working Group on Human Needs and Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, which met over the past six months under the leadership of former Senator Harris Wofford. 

            The Working Group included leaders of civil liberties and religious groups that have frequently clashed over church-state and “charitable choice” issues.  Dr. Edgar and the NCC’s Deputy General Secretary for Research and Planning, the Rev. Dr. Eileen W. Lindner, were among Working Group members.

            On January 15, the group reported that it had “reached consensus on 29 recommendations for ways in which President Bush’s faith-based social service proposals can be implemented without violating the First Amendment,” Dr. Edgar said, “and without putting the financial and spiritual integrity of churches and other faith groups at risk.  The remaining hurdle to the proposals becoming reality, the Working Group said, is adequate funding by the government.

            “Now it is President Bush’s turn to respond to this bipartisan, interfaith working group,” Dr. Edgar said.  “Adequate funding is the President’s responsibility.”

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