The National Council of Churches, in conjunction with the Center for Community Change, will sponsor a National Audio News Conference to mark the national public launch of the interfaith effort to relieve poverty in the States, on June 15, 2004. Through the 2 hour conference, the “LET JUSTICE ROLL: Faith and Community Voices Against Poverty” alliance will answer questions on how the faith community can help bring an end to poverty.
The alliance, which includes membership from the NCC, has long-since struggled to register, mobilize, and protect voters, especially low-income voters, to let their voices be heard on policies that affect them.
In addition, the alliance has often asked public officials, delegates to the Party Conventions and this year’s candidates for public office to answer the critical question: what will you do to end poverty?
Throughout the 1-hour conference, the lead speakers will answer the same question on poverty from reporters and editors across the nation.
Such speakers include renowned ecumenical leaders such as:
* The Rev. Dr. James A. Forbes, Jr., Senior Minister of The Riverside Church, New York City, who will be speaking at at least seven "LET JUSTICE ROLL" events across the nation.
* The Rev. Dr. Robert W. Edgar, General Secretary, National Council of Churches USA, New York City. Under his leadership, the NCC has made ending poverty its top priority. The NCC's 36 member churches count 45 million adherents in more than 100,000 local congregations nationwide.
* Deepak Bhargava, Executive Director of the Center for Community Change, Washington, D.C., a national nonprofit organization that provides technical assistance, training and policy support to low-income community groups.
* The Rev. Peg Chemberlin, Executive Director, Minnesota Council of Churches, and the Rev. Ian D. Bethel, Sr., President, Minnesota State Baptist Convention, Minneapolis, Minn., sponsors of a July 23 "LET JUSTICE ROLL" worship and praise event called "Revive the Vote" that will focus on communities reclaiming their right and responsibility to vote.
* The Rev. Tom Quigley, Acting Executive Minister, Washington Association of Churches, Seattle, Wash., sponsor of the first "LET JUSTICE ROLL" event, June 25-26. At least two dozen Seattle-area congregations are participating in this push to register voters and eliminate poverty. The Washington Association of Churches convenes a statewide coalition on tax fairness.
* David A. Leslie, Executive Director, Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon, sponsor of the second and third "LET JUSTICE ROLL" events, June 26-27 in Portland, Ore., and June 28 in Eugene, Ore.
Following the Audio conference, the NCC and the alliance will co-sponsor an array of public events until November at the national, state and local level, to mobilize voters and keep the poverty issue at the “front and center” in the presidential election. According to the NCC, such events, which will last one or two days in length, will typically include meetings of religious and community leaders with elected officials and Party Convention delegates; a news conference on local and national issues; voter education, registration, mobilization and protection, and a worship service or rally that roots the work to overcome poverty in religious convictions.
To date, events have been scheduled in some 14 states under the LET JUSTICE ROLL theme, Amos 5:24: "Let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an everflowing stream .…”
The following is the list of scheduled events, as of June 10, 2004:
* Seattle, Wash., June 25-26. Contact: Washington Association of Churches, 206-625-9790 x11, in collaboration with the Philip Randolph Institute, Church Council of Greater Seattle, NAACP and Central Area Motivation Program
* Portland, Ore., June 26-27. Contact: Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon, 503-221-1054
* Eugene, Ore., June 28. Contact: Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon, 503-221-1054
* Rochester, N.Y., July 11-12. Contact: Downtown Rochester Presbyterian Church and the Interfaith Community of Churches, 585-325-4000 x23
* Minneapolis, Minn., July 23. Contact: Minnesota Council of Churches, 612-870-3600, and Minnesota State Baptist Convention
* Boston, Mass., July 28, concurrent with the Democratic National Convention. Contact: Massachusetts Conference of the United Church of Christ, 508-875-5233; Old South Church, 617-425-5150, with Bread for the World
* New York, N.Y., August 31, concurrent with the Republican National Convention. Contact: National Council of Churches, 212-870-2361, and The Riverside Church, 646-483-3459
* Milwaukee, Wis., Sept. 18. Contact: Wisconsin Council of Churches, 608-837-3108; Interfaith Conference of Greater Milwaukee, 414-276-9050, with the Gamaliel Foundation
* Albuquerque, N.M., September 18. Contact: New Mexico Conference of Churches, 505-255-1509, with Bread for the World
* Chicago, Ill., October 9-10. Contact: Protestants for the Common Good, 312-223-9544, with Call to Renewal
Additional events are being organized in:
* Raleigh, N.C. Contact: North Carolina Council of Churches, 919-828-6501
* Columbia, S.C. Contact: Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Columbia, 803-772-5087/252-9000, with South Carolina Fair Share and South Carolina Christian Action Council
* Columbus, Ohio. Contact: Ohio Council of Churches, 614-885-9590 x15
* Philadelphia, Pa. (tentative date October 17). Contact: National Council of Churches, 212-870-2361
* New Jersey. Contact: New Jersey Council of Churches, 609-396-9546