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Edgar: Jesus' priorities, not politics, guide NCC
peace, anti-poverty and eco-justice programs
August 9, 2005, Washington – In remarks today at the Progressive National Baptist Convention’s (PNBC) 44th Annual Session in Detroit, the Rev. Dr. Bob Edgar, General Secretary of the National Council of Churches USA, told the gathering of Baptist pastors, ministers and lay leaders that it is the priorities and commandments of Christ rather than partisan politics that leads the NCC to advocate for peace, ending poverty and protecting God’s creation.
“There are those who try to dilute our witness and mislead our friends by suggesting that the National Council of Churches is a partisan, left-leaning organization,” said Rev. Edgar. “But you know who it is that calls us to pursue peace, fight poverty and injustice, and care for the earth. It is the Prince of Peace who each day of his life showed his bias for the poor and prayed to the Creator who gave us this beautiful world,” he said.
The NCC has come under fire in recent months for advocating for good environmental stewardship, working to end poverty and for calling for a plan to reduce U.S. military presence in Iraq.
In an interview Rev. Edgar said of the issues in which the NCC focuses, “These are not liberal or conservative issues but issues for which God has called us as Christian believers to take responsibility.”
PNBC, which is made up of more than 2,000 churches and 2.5 million members globally, is one of the member denominations of the NCC. With an expected attendance of more than 10,000 for the Annual Session being held this week, the PNBC plans to vote on resolutions that address numerous social issues including the need for universal healthcare, establishment of a living wage, proposed changes in Social Security, the U.S. boycott of Cuba and the war in Iraq.
Editor's Note: To schedule an interview with Rev. Edgar or for more information, contact Leslie Tune at 202/544-2350, ext. 11 or Phil Jenks at 212/870-2252. Reporters interested in finding out more about PNBC's resolutions should contact Deborah Pankey-Mebane at 410/206-8082.
The full text of Rev. Edgar's speech today is below.
Giving praise and honor to God, it is an honor to be standing before you again. No matter where the Progressive National Baptist Convention meets, history follows you. Many of you have stood shoulder-to-shoulder with the giants of faith and justice that walked among you: L.V. Booth, Benjamin Mays, T.M. Chambers, Ralph Abernathy, Martin Luther King Sr., Martin Luther King, Jr. These giants and many others form a cloud of witnesses that follows you and proclaims you wherever you go.
Unity, Service, Fellowship, Peace. Your motto is your testimony. Throughout your history, you have recognized that these ideals must be pursued with Christian sisters and brothers of all denominations and backgrounds. The National Council of Churches has been grateful for your strong involvement in and support of our own efforts to live out your testimony. Your theme, "Building Better Bridges for Ministry: The Bridge of Partnership" points to the strength and power that we have working together in Christian unity. Together we can build a bridge that will take us from where we are to where we believe God would have us to go.
The National Council of Churches is a fellowship of very diverse Christian groups united by a common Lord and called to a dynamic witness to live out the Gospel:
- in our pursuit of peace,
- in our vigilance against the infamies of injustice and poverty, and
- in our care for the health and preservation of the beautiful world God has given us.
There are those who try to dilute our witness and mislead our friends by suggesting that the National Council of Churches is a partisan, left-leaning organization. But you know who it is that calls us to pursue peace, fight poverty and injustice, and care for the earth. It is the Prince of Peace who each day of his life showed his bias for the poor and prayed to the Creator who gave us this beautiful world.
Thank you for clear expression of the call we share, for your steadfast commitment to Jesus Christ and his commandments to be peaceful, just and caring people. Together, and only together, can we embolden our witness to bring all people closer to Christ and closer to the Beloved Community of peace, justice and caring that is our common goal. Thank you and God bless you all.
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