Presiding bishop, other Christian leaders meet with Obama on election eve
Group raises issues of poverty, peace and justice
"On All Saints' Day, it was very good to gather with the president to speak words of support for him as a leader, particularly his work on behalf of so many people on the margins," Jefferts Schori told ENS. "We expressed our concern for the divisive rhetoric so prevalent in our society today. We also expressed gratitude for his administration's concern for the poor and hungry, and our hopes for continued work on the economic situation in this nation, on Middle East peace, and on the travel ban and restrictions on religious work in Cuba."
The Christian leaders included members of the National Council of Churches, which represents 45 million people and 100,000 congregations in the United States, and the global humanitarian agency Church World Service.
The midterm elections, held near the midpoint of the four-year presidential term, will determine all 435 seats in the House of Representatives, and about a third of the 100 seats in the Senate. Furthermore, 34 of the 50 U.S. states will elect their governors.
Regardless of the outcome of the midterm elections "our faithful witness is needed now more than ever," said the Rev. Michael Kinnamon, NCC general secretary, according to a press release. "We cannot stand by while people of goodwill are baselessly attacked for their faith, their political beliefs, or their identity. We have no reason to fear or demonize those who are different from ourselves. Today, tomorrow, and into this next Congress, our country needs to come together and reclaim our values of justice and equality."
The leaders representing Church World Service "urged the president to help implement domestic and international policies to make sure all families and children have access to nutritious, affordable food," the release said.
"We are facing a severe global economic crisis, and the repercussions extend beyond the borders of our country," said the Rev. John McCullough, CWS president and CEO. "As families in the U.S. find their household budgets more and more strained, families in the developing world are hurting too … We asked for the president's leadership in crafting policies that ensure men, women, and children have access to nutritious food and that we invest in diversified agriculture and ongoing community-based nutrition education."
The delegation also included Episcopal Bishop Johncy Itty, chair of the CWS board of directors; Bishop Mark Hanson of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America; and representatives of the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, Church of the Brethren, Armenian Church of America, Greek Orthodox Church of America, Presbyterian Church (USA), Moravian Church, Religious Society of Friends, Reformed Church in America, United Methodist Church, Orthodox Church in America, United Church of Christ, and the Progressive National Baptist Convention.
"As the economic downturn has battered the middle class, it has been even more devastating to those already living on the economic margins of society," said the Rev. Peg Chemberlin, NCC president. "Our denominations and organizations are on the front lines -- providing meals, support, and assistance to those hit hard by the economic downturn -- but we know that more needs to be done."
According to the press release, the delegation presented Obama with a Saint John's Bible, a framed sampler of statements commemorating 100 years of ecumenism, and a plaque commemorating the Church World Service's "Feed the Future" initiative.