NEW YORK CITY - The Rev. Dr. Paul H. Sherry, one of this country’s most distinguished clergy, has agreed, in cooperation with the Center for Community Change, to lead, for a one-year period, the National Council of Churches’ Mobilization to Overcome Poverty. Dr. Sherry, former President of the United Church of Christ who retired in 1999, also will continue to serve as a consultant for the Center for Community Change.
His appointment was announced to the NCC’s General Assembly during its meeting in Jackson, Miss., Nov. 4-6.
Dr. Sherry has been committed to working for economic and social justice most of his adult life. His service with the Council will mark a continuation of his active engagement in finding ways to improve the conditions for poor and disenfranchised people. He holds eight honorary degrees from institutions across the United States and abroad for his work in this area, including degrees from Chicago Theological Seminary, Ursinus College in Collegeville, Pa., the Reformed Theological Academy in Debracan, Hungary, and Eden Theological Seminary in Webster Groves, Mo.
Since leaving the UCC President’s office, Dr. Sherry has been working with the National Campaign for Jobs and Income Support, a project of the Center for Community Change. He is also the secretary-treasurer of the National Interfaith Committee for Worker Justice and is related to a number of other organizations that deal with economic and social justice issues.
Regarding the work he will do for NCC, Dr. Sherry says, "I am very pleased to assume this responsibility. Work along side of and on behalf of the poor is at the very heart of our faith. It is my hope that together we can address the economic injustices that impact the lives of so many and by so doing help shape a society more in accord with God's desire."
According to NCC General Secretary Dr. Bob Edgar, the Council is blessed to have someone as passionate as Dr. Sherry to organize its efforts to overcome poverty. "I’m thrilled and excited to have someone of his qualifications and stature to take the time, energy and effort to assist us in being relevant and effective in our work to end poverty. We are grateful to the Center for Community Change for helping make Paul available to us."
The NCC-which is currently engaged in a multi-year Poverty Mobilization effort-seeks to lift up best practices in the struggle against poverty, change common wisdom about the inevitability of poverty, and partner with other anti-poverty organizations for collaboration in education, advocacy and service.
As the Special Assistant to the General Secretary, Dr. Sherry will serve as a link to state organizations; organize all of NCC’s efforts to give poor people more access to a better quality of life; work in cooperation with the Center for Community Change and other anti-poverty agencies, and help develop the Benefit Bank-a web-based system designed by the NCC and Solutions for Progess that allows people with low incomes (using a coach) to calculate and file for all the benefits for which they are entitled at the same time.
Born in Tamaqua, Penn., Dr. Sherry received his master of divinity and doctorate degrees from Union Theological Seminary in New York City. He also has a bachelor’s degree from Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, Pa. His career has included service as a pastor, author, religious television and radio program host and church president. He also served as Executive Director of the Community Renewal Society in Chicago before his election as President of the United Church of Christ in 1989.
Dr. Sherry is married to Mary Louise Thornburg. They have two adult children and four grandchildren.