New National Anti-Poverty Effort to be Launched
January 30-31 in Columbia, S.C.
NCC Sponsoring Interfaith Worship, Strategy
Session; Participating in Candidates' Forum
January 23, 2004,
COLUMBIA, S.C. -- National events Jan. 30-31 in Columbia, S.C., will launch
a new phase in work by grassroots and faith-based groups to end poverty in
the United States. Overflow crowds are projected for a presidential
candidates' forum, get-out-the-vote campaign, interfaith worship service and
strategy session -- all focused on ending poverty and economic injustice.
Thousands of people -- several hundred of them coming in from out of
state, including 32 seminarians from the Interdenominational Theological
Center in Atlanta and 14 from Harvard Divinity School in Cambridge, Mass. --
are signed up to participate in the two days of events, on the eve of the
South Carolina Democratic presidential primary (Feb. 3). Here are
- Jan. 30: People's Agenda for Economic Justice, Featuring Dialogue
with Presidential Candidates.
An 8:30 a.m. march from the Adams Mark Hotel, 1200 Hampton St., to The
Township Auditorium, 1803 Taylor St., will kick off the morning's
activities. Grassroots and faith-based groups will carry banners and
signs. R&B artist Will Downing and screenwriter James Kearns are
confirmed to be among the national and local celebrities and officials who
will open the forum -- fully expected to overflow the 3,200-seat
auditorium, organizers said. Admission is free, but please note:
this is a ticketed event, and most tickets are committed. (More
Beginning at 11 a.m., nationally syndicated radio personality Tom
Joyner will moderate the "Presidential Dialogue with America's Working
Families," during which people living in poverty will share their stories
and post questions one on one to candidates, marking the first time a
dialogue with the candidates will be held directly with working poor
people. All the Democratic candidates for President are expected;
President Bush has been invited but has not yet replied. Candidates
will be challenged to place issues of poverty and economic justice high on
their campaign agendas.
The candidates' forum is sponsored by the Washington, D.C.-based Center
for Community Change, a national nonprofit
organization that provides technical assistance, training and policy
support to low-income community groups. The National Council of
Churches (the nation's leading ecumenical organization, whose 36 member
denominations count 50 million adherents in 140,000 local congregations
nationwide) and other bodies are participating in the forum.
The Center for Community Change reports
that the "Presidential Dialogue with America's Working Families" will be
aired live on the Columbia, S.C., NBC-TV affiliate, WIS-TV, which reaches
70 percent of the state. SCE-TV's digital subscribers also will be
able to watch live; SCE-TV also plans to tape the dialogue for later
airing, as does C-SPAN. MSNBC.com is planning to Webcast segments.
- Jan. 30: "Get on the Bus and Get Out
the Vote" Effort.
Friday afternoon (12:30 to 4 p.m.) will
feature a massive get-out-the-vote effort in Columbia, S.C., and beyond.
Volunteers will go door to door and to high-traffic areas, staff phone
banks and participate in issue forums, then regroup around 4 p.m. at the
Adams Mark Hotel for debriefing.
- Jan. 30: Interfaith Worship Service,
7:30 p.m., Washington Street United Methodist Church
At 7 p.m., religious leaders in liturgical attire will gather at the
Adams Mark Hotel and lead a procession to Washington Street United
Methodist Church, 1401 Washington St., for an interfaith worship service
focused on poverty and economic justice. The 7:30 p.m. service will
feature participation by several religious traditions, including
Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist and Unitarian, with readings, liturgy
and prayers from their traditions on economic justice. The Rev.
Daryl Jackson of Bibleway Church will preach. Special music
will be offered by the Benedict College Choir and by social activist and
performer Si Kahn from North Carolina. The service will include
testimonies by people of faith living in poverty -- and working to end it.
The service is sponsored by the National Council of Churches and being
planned in collaboration with local groups. Said the Rev. Paul
Sherry, Coordinator of the NCC's Poverty Mobilization, "What we hope to do
is demonstrate the deep commitment within the major faiths for economic
justice and for ending poverty in this land -- in other words, to
demonstrate the spiritual basis for working to end poverty. You
can't be a committed person of faith and not be committed to ending
poverty and working for economic justice. Spirituality without this
commitment is a weak spirituality."
- Jan. 31: Day-Long Meeting to Plan Faith Community Follow Up Against
From 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Adams Mark Hotel, at least 80-100 people
will meet for "Faith Mobilization Against Poverty," to plan future work to
end hunger, poverty and economic injustice in the United States. The
meeting is being planned by the National Council of Churches Mobilization
to Overcome Poverty and the Center for Community Change.
The opening will be followed by a panel conversation moderated by the
Rev. Sherry on "why we are losing on issues of poverty, how to reclaim the
moral ground on issues of poverty and how our faith demands that we engage
these issues." There will be specific presentations on voter
education and registration, state tax and budget fairness, living and
minimum wages and more. The Rev. Sherry will lead the concluding
discussion (1:40 to 2:40 p.m.) on "Where do we go from here? The role of
the National Council of Churches and its Poverty Mobilization." The
meeting will conclude with worship.
The Columbia, S.C., events are part of a larger voter mobilization
project with the goal of activating two million new and infrequent voters by
the time of the general election in November.
"Millions of people in America are hurting," promotional materials for
the event note. "National priorities must include affordable housing;
children's programs and education; affordable, nutritious food; access to
health care, and good jobs at good wages. Grassroots groups and
faith-based communities across America are protesting our Government's
misplaced priorities and challenging presidential candidates of both parties
to address the long-standing neglect of economic issues that affect families
in every community."
Media contacts: 212-870-2252,
firstname.lastname@example.org (Carol Fouke, office, New York) and 202-297-2191
(mobile), email@example.com (Leslie
Tune, Washington, D.C., and Columbia, S.C.)
Program contact: Rev. Paul H. Sherry, 212-870-2298;
Links to additional information and resources:
PDF Flyer About the Jan. 30-31 Events
PDF Flyer About the Jan. 30 Interfaith Worship Service
NCC Resources for Work Against Poverty
NCC News Story about the Jan. 30-31 Events