Another interesting outcome of the recent gathering of “Christian Churches Together in the USA” (see earlier posts) was the coming together around a statement of concern on dometic poverty. This might seem to be a “no brainer” (We’re all against poverty!) but the very breadth of churches involved — Roman Catholic, Orthodox, Historic Protestant, Racial/Ethnic, Evangelical/Pentecostal — meant that there were a variety of approaches to the problem.
Some churches are comfortable with advocacy; others prefer to provide direct services (soup kitchens, housing, clothing, etc.) for the poor. Many do both. Some churches in this mix emphasize personal responsibility in working one’s way out of poverty; others focus on society’s corporate responsibility for the plight of the poor and call on government and local communities to act together to address the problem. Some acknowledge both.
However, after months of hard work, an agreed statement (which will soon be released) was crafted, finding consensus in this broad group of Christian leaders. Equally significant, CCT-USA has agreed to hold its next annual meeting in Washington, DC, in 2008 in the run-up to Presidential elections. There will be public events to engage the candidates for the Presidency as to what they intend to do to place the “scandal of poverty” high on their agendas and on the agenda of the nation.
Despite all our differences as Christians in this country, there is real unity in our awareness of God’s concern for the poor and the responsibility of God’s people to stand with them and to work for the alleviation of those conditions which, even in this wealthiest nation in the world, cause so many (especially women and children) to live in the depths of despair and hopelessness that arise from a life of poverty.
This unity too — especially from so broad a coalition of American churches — is “good news!”