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Ninth Ecumenical Advocacy Days opens
with a call to confess God's work in the world

See also:
Advocates testify of immigration injustice

Watkins sermon: human family is one
Prejean: social justice commitment is a gift

Washington, March 19, 2010 -- The ninth annual Ecumenical Advocacy Days commenced tonight with a call to confess that God is at work for the world's transformation in the direction of justice and peace."

The Rev. Dr. Michael Kinnamon, General Secretary of the National Council of Churches USA, was loudly cheered when he asked the ecumenical gathering, "How many of you think that the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., is a better theologian than Glenn Beck."

When the cries of affirmation died down, Kinnamon said, "My point is not to take cheap shots at an unworthy target, but rather to affirm that social justice is at the very heart of the gospel, a mark of faithfulness to the One who taught us to love our neighbors as we love ourselves."

Hundreds of persons of faith are gathering for Ecumenical Advocacy Days here March 19-22 under the theme, "A Place to Call Home: Immigrants, Refugees and Displaced Peoples."

"We do not pretend that we have all the answers to the problems that face this nation," Kinnamon said in his welcoming remarks Friday evening, "but we do joyfully confess that God has shown us what is good: to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with our God."

The NCC, Kinnamon said, is best known for its translation of the New Revised Standard Version of the bible and its advocacy for social justice.

"We think those two things go together," he said. At these Advocacy Days, we will put forward immigration reform, not because we are political activists but because we are biblically-grounded people of faith."

Advocacy Days will provide the context for a March for America: Change Takes Courage and Faith, at 2 p.m. on Sunday, March 21, in Washington.  

Tens of thousands of people are expected to gather on the West Lawn of the Capitol to send a message to President Obama and to Congress: the time to fix our broken immigration system is now. 

“We hope to show the moral urgency of repairing America’s broken immigration system,” said David Leslie, chair of the NCC/CWS Task Force on Immigration. 

“This will be demonstrated in a dramatic display of unity among supporters of comprehensive immigration reform – people of faith, immigrant rights groups, labor groups, and others from all across the United States,” Leslie said, noting that people of faith have been hosting prayer vigils and potluck suppers and meeting with members of Congress in their home districts for months.

Hundreds of delegates will follow-up on Monday, March 22, by pressing their message to members of the House and Senate during their annual Advocacy Days pilgrimage to Capitol Hill.

Four nationally known religious leaders will address the conference: the Rev. Dr. Sharon Watkins, General Minister and President of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ); Bishop Minerva Cacaño of the Desert Southwest Conference of the United Methodist Church; and Sister Helen Prejean, an anti-death penalty activist and author of Dead Man Walking; and Sister Mary McCauley, BVM.

Frank Sharry, founder and Executive Director of America’s Voice, the newly-founded communications campaign working to win common-sense immigration reform, will address the conference Saturday morning, March 20.

NCC News contact:  Philip E. Jenks, 212-870-2228 (office), 646-853-4212 (cell) ,

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