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Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus Advocate
for Green Job Creation for Those in Poverty

WASHINGTON, October 13, 2009 – Citing a shared tradition of justice and compassion, the faith community, no stranger to providing personal and communal assistance to the nation’s most vulnerable populations, is organizing across the country to call on government officials to create new, sustainable and green job opportunities for persons living in poverty.  

Thirty-four national faith organizations representing the Jewish, Christian, Muslim and Hindu communities will hold public events across the country to encourage government officials to, when working to usher in a new green economy, simultaneously fight poverty by ensuring equal opportunities for training and employment for the nation’s most vulnerable. 

Entitled Fighting Poverty with Faith: Good Jobs, Green Jobs, the week-long mobilization will include programs such as worker training/retraining seminars, home retrofitting fairs, roundtable discussions on how to implement green job training opportunities and tours of green job facilities across the country. This year’s Fighting Poverty with Faith initiative will be held from October 14-21, 2009.  

 Currently, unemployment levels are at 9.8 percent, the highest level in 26 years. In addition, the U.S. Census Bureau estimated in September that the number of Americans living in poverty has risen from 37.3 million to 39.8 million. Government and economic leaders across the country have suggested one path to economic recovery will be through increased investments in green job creation.

“Churches have been powerful voices for generations on a range of defining social justice issues, most importantly the need to address poverty”, said Jordan Blevins, Coordinator of Poverty Initiatives for the National Council of Churches. “As we transition to a cleaner economy, it is our call to ensure that this transition will lead to meaningful poverty-reduction and that impoverished communities are not left out of the opportunities presented by the emerging, green sectors.

The Fighting Poverty with Faith mobilization will kick-off on October 14 at 2:00 p.m. with a national teleconference featuring U.S. Representative Chris Smith (R-N.J.) and U.S. Representative Mike Castle (R-Del.). The week-long mobilization will conclude with an event in the nation’s capitol on October 21, featuring a new interfaith prayer calling for the creation of new, sustainable and green job opportunities for the poor. The prayer was written by Rev. Dr. Michael Kinnamon, general secretary of the National Council of Churches in Christ in the USA; Dr. Sayyid Syeed, national director for the Islamic Society of North America’s Office for Interfaith and Community Alliances; Rabbi Steve Gutow, president of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs; and Fr. Larry Snyder, president and CEO of Catholic Charities USA. 

Faith leaders are also encouraging their members to contact federal, state and local government officials embrace policies that invest in green jobs for the nation’s most vulnerable. Specifically, the mission of the Fighting Poverty with Faith week is to encourage federal, state and local government officials to

  • Target funds toward projects that help low-income families develop the necessary skills to compete in a new economy;

  • Ensure green industries create “good jobs” with decent benefits, family-supporting wages and safe working conditions;

  • Promote projects that improve the quality of life for low-income families by lowering energy costs and enhancing public health through safer housing;

  • Create pipelines that enable low-income people to access jobs in green, traditional and other newly emerging industries; and

  • Ensure equity and transparency in the distribution of funding associated with the creation of new workforce development, including green jobs.  

National organizations endorsing the Fighting Poverty with Faith mobilization effort include: the Alliance to End Hunger; American Baptist Churches USA; Association of Jewish Family and Children’s Agencies; BBYO, Inc.; Bread for the World; Catholic Charities USA ; Center of Concern; The Episcopal Church; Evangelical Lutheran Church in America; Evangelicals for Social Action; and Hindu American Foundation.

Also, Hindu American Seva Charities; International Association of Jewish Vocational Services; Islamic Relief; Islamic Society of North America; the Jewish Council for Public Affairs; Jewish Labor Committee; Jewish Reconstructionist Federation; Jewish Women International; Lutheran Services in America; MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger; and The National Advocacy Center of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd;.

Also, the National Council of Churches USA; National Council of Jewish Women; NETWORK: A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby; Progressive National Baptist Church; The Rabbinical Assembly; Society of St. Vincent DePaul; Sojourners; Union for Reform Judaism; United Church of Christ, Justice and Witness Ministries; United Jewish Communities; The United Methodist Church – General Board of Church and Society; and Women of Reform Judaism. 

Fighting Poverty with Faith is part of the National Council of Churches Poverty Initiative, which seeks to empower and mobilize the faith community to lend its powerful moral and public voice to the ongoing and urgent debate around poverty. 

More information on this year’s Fighting Poverty with Faith initiative can be found at www.fightingpovertywithfaith.com, and www.nccendpoverty.org.


NCC News contact:  Philip E. Jenks, 212-870-2228 (office), 914-589-6948 (cell) , pjenks@ncccusa.org

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