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Poor People Are 'On God's Mind,' Rev. Dr. Forbes Says at Interfaith Service

July 29, 2004, Boston, Mass. -- More than 800 people of faith, including as many as 300 Democratic National Convention delegates, broke away from the Convention in Boston for a few hours Wednesday (July 28) to lift their voices and prayers on behalf of people living in poverty and to commit to do what they can to put ending poverty on the national political agenda.

The interfaith worship service and rally was held at the historic Old South Church in Boston and was the sixth stop in the national “Let Justice Roll: Faith and Community Voices Against Poverty” campaign, a joint effort of the National Council of Churches USA and the Center for Community Change in collaboration with other national, regional and local anti-poverty and religious organizations.

The campaign’s goal is to raise poverty as a priority issue in this election year and to educate, register, mobilize and protect voters, especially low-income voters. Related events are being planned for August 31 in New York, concurrent with the Republican National Convention, and for at least 10 more cities in September and October.

In a national poll of likely voters released just before the worship service, the Alliance to End Hunger -- one of the principal sponsors of the Boston event -- found that 75 percent of voters (including 61 percent of Republicans) would rather hear a candidate’s plan for fighting hunger and poverty than a candidate’s position on gay marriage (17 percent). The poll, conducted by McLaughlin & Associates, also found that 89 percent considered a candidate’s position on reducing hunger and poverty to be an important factor in voting for president; and, 94 percent believe government anti-hunger programs are important.

“You cannot speak for God if poverty has been cast away and is not spoken of,” said the Rev. Dr. James Forbes, Senior Minister of The Riverside Church in New York City, at the interfaith worship service. The Rev. Forbes, who is providing leadership in many of the cities in the national “Let Justice Roll” campaign, challenged participants to fill the real “God gap” by listening to God and doing God’s will.

“Let’s get the poor on our agenda because it’s on God’s mind,” said the Rev. Forbes. At the news conference preceding the service, he commented, "If you ever expect to get a reservation in heaven, you will have to have a letter of recommendation from the poor to get in.”

The service included testimonials from people with direct experience of poverty. Jessica Marrocco overcame homelessness to find housing and get an education. Now with the Boston group One Family, Inc., she said, “I will not feel content until every family can have a permanent roof over its head.” Fred Fox, with City Mission Society of Boston, said he didn’t know how to ask for help when he was released from prison. “I was free, but in the prison of poverty and need,” he said, urging development of systems of both material and moral support for newly released prisoners.

Senator Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) and Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), both with the Kerry-Edwards campaign, also attended the interfaith service and rally. At the August 31 New York service, representatives of the Bush-Cheney campaign will be invited to participate. 

Co-sponsors of the Boston event included The Alliance to End Hunger, Bread for the World, Center for Community Change, National Council of Churches USA, United Church of Christ, Old South Church, Dunk the Vote and more than 20 local organizations.


More Information About "Let Justice Roll"
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