Ending extreme inequality, uplifting those who are impoverished, ensuring civil and human rights, protecting the integrity of creation, and seeking peace in the midst of global conflicts are all the focus for this year's Ecumenical Advocacy Days for Global Peace with Justice conference.
"Challenging Disparity: The Promise of God, the Power of Solidarity" is set for March 10-13 in Washington, D.C.
The conference theme is inspired by the first letter of John, as he sought to heighten the spiritual and social awareness of the community; "This is how we know what real love is: Jesus gave his life for us. So we should give our lives for our brothers and sisters...My children, we should love people not only with words and talk, but by our actions and true caring." 1 John 3:16-18 (NCV).
The Episcopal Church’s Office of Government Relations is encouraging Episcopalians interested in public policy to attend this fourth annual Event, where nearly 900 religious advocates from across the country are expected.
"I'm excited at the momentum I see growing through this event," said event coordinator Mike Neuroth. "This year we have added over 10 new sponsoring organizations and will have increased young adult attendance by four times or more. It is going to be a great weekend that will send a strong message to congress from the faith community."
Speakers will include E.J. Dionne, Jr., Washington Post columnist and frequent media political commentator; the Rev. Dr. Michael Kinnamon, chair of the Justice and Advocacy Commission of the National Council of Churches, and the Allen and Dottie Miller Professor of Mission and Peace at Eden Theological Seminary; and the Rev. Dr. Suzan Johnson Cook, senior pastor of Believers Christian Fellowship and president of the 10,000 member Hampton (Virginia) University Ministries' Conference, which represents all the historically African American denominations.
Conference participants will gather to unify efforts for a more just world by examining urgent global issues and U.S. policy in eight tracks: the Middle East, Africa, Asia, Latin America, global economic justice, global security, eco-justice and U.S. domestic issues.
Participants will also attend comprehensive issue briefings, and advocacy training workshops in preparation for Monday's Lobby Day on Capitol Hill.
Lobby Day promises to turn the conference vision into voice when participants will visit their representatives, senators or key policy staff, and be encouraged to assemble for an interfaith prayer vigil for peace in Iraq on the west lawn of the Capitol.
Workshops and plenary sessions within the eight tracks will cover a broad spectrum of international and domestic policies highlighting ways participants can build bridges across issues faced by the poor and disenfranchised. In addition, time will be allotted for ecumenical worship and networking by denomination and region.
"In the wake of the past year's natural disasters, we have witnessed deplorable economic disparity and suffering. Advocacy Days offers Episcopalians the chance to stand in unity with our neighbors and ask Congress to address not only the immediate needs but the underlying injustices that added so greatly to the tragedy," stated Maureen Shea, director of the Office of Government Relations.
For more information and to register, visit http://www.advocacydays.org, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 202.543.1517.
Note: The following title is available from the Episcopal Book/Resource Center, 800.334.7626; http://www.episcopalbookstore.org/
To Read: New Politics of Poverty: The Nonworking Poor in America, by Lawrence Mead, 1992 (Basic Books, New York, New York,) $25.
Thirty years ago, the great national debate was how to help ordinary, workaday Americans achieve the good things in life. Today we are preoccupied with - and increasingly divided over - how to cope with the problems of poor and dependent Americans, most of whom cannot or will not work at the jobs available. Mead provides overwhelming and disturbing evidence that passive poverty reflects defeatism more than lack of opportunity.
Lawrence Mead is the author of "Beyond Entitlement: The Social Obligations of Citizenship."