I want to personally invite you to Washington, D.C., on June 3-6 to participate in Pentecost 2007: Taking the Vision to the Streets. I’m asking you to come because this is not just another conference: This will be an important step in a campaign aimed at the critical presidential election year of 2008. What is the plan? We hope to do nothing less than put poverty on the national agenda, and challenge candidates from both parties to present the nation with their plans for dramatic poverty reduction both at home and globally. I believe we can really make a difference, but only if we are all in it together.
Last year, we launched “From Poverty to Opportunity: A Covenant for a New America,” a powerful tool for breaking the liberal-conservative paralysis on poverty, transcending the frozen ideological debate that traps the poor between false alternatives, calling the nation to a results-based program, and moving us all to higher ground. This year, we will take the Covenant to a new level by calling on our national leaders to put poverty near the top of the political agenda.
Taking the Vision to the Streets begins with a Sunday night revival, where I will share the preaching with Rev. Sam Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, and Rev. Freddie Haynes, senior pastor of Friendship-West Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas. We will also have inspiring gospel music to lift our souls for the work ahead.
A panel of church leaders and activists, including Brian McLaren, Sam Rodriquez, Rich Nathan, and Shane Claiborne will lead a discussion on “How to Put Poverty on the Agenda of your Local Church.” Marshall Ganz will lead an organizing institute to give you practical skills for putting poverty on the agenda.
We’ll be giving our 6th annual Amos and Joseph Awards. This year’s “Amos,” a person who faithfully uses a position of influence to benefit those in poverty, is Gary Haugen, president of International Justice Mission, a human rights agency that rescues victims of violence, sexual exploitation, slavery, and oppression. Our “Joseph,” a person who comes from a humble background to serve God and community, is Rev. Romal Tune, president of Clergy Strategic Alliances, which works to equip pastors and congregations with the skills necessary to build power and improve their communities.
And, in its fourth year now, our Emerging Leaders program (for faith-inspired activists younger than 30) may be one of the most exciting offerings of the conference. This includes a special evening with Christa Mazzone. Here, young leaders have the opportunity to establish relationships that could last a lifetime as we all seek to build a new movement.
We are also finishing the details on our presidential candidates forum on faith, values, and poverty. I’ll have an exciting announcement tomorrow about who will be joining us; you don’t want to miss it.
As a participant, you will join workshops and seminars offering very practical training in how to use the Covenant, develop organizing skills, learn how to do effective media work, round out your knowledge of the issues, deepen your understanding of “prophetic advocacy,” and network with other faith-based advocates, especially from your region.
Pentecost 2007 is the next step in a campaign that will last through the 2008 election year season and beyond – don’t miss this important event.
Vote with your feet. Take the vision to the streets. Show up to make a difference. Tell the media, by your presence, that the faith community cares about our neighbors in poverty. Tell your political representatives the kind of leadership that you expect from them – we’ll set up the appointments for you. And there will be a Capitol Hill reception, like last year, at which both Democratic and Republican leaders will speak.
So do come. And bring some friends. Send this invitation to others. Bring a delegation from your community, church, or school. Drive if you live a day’s drive away or less, or make your plane reservations today.
We need you to sign up right away: Make a statement about your faith and its implications. Washington needs to hear from you, and we need your help and support. See you soon!
And stay tuned for the exciting announcement tomorrow on our presidential forum.