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Congregations Called to Public Commitments

Noting concern that “threatening, authoritarian messages” accompanying the recent election of Donald J. Trump “open the way to more radical attacks on human rights and democratic processes” within the United States, 50 Christian leaders from across America have called on congregations and assemblies to deepen their engagements in the political and economic health of local communities.

A Public Call to Protect All People—released January 10, 2017—challenges congregations to make four public commitments:

· Protect and support all people, including those “targeted, discriminated against or singled out for state-sponsored/sanctioned violence;”
· Support “practices of diplomacy and negotiation” in the carrying out of U.S. foreign policy;
· Support an economic order that “is sustainable as a servant of the people amid changes in climate;” and
· Seek new “relationships of solidarity” locally that “reach across lines of creed, class, ethnicity, race and party preference.”

Denominational leaders, pastors, community activists, scholars and founders of para-church organizations have signed the Call.  Among the signers are Tony Campolo, Dr. Iva Carruthers, Jimmy Carter, Fr. John Dear, Kathy Kelly, Dr. John Paul Lederach, Dr. Catherine Meeks, Dr. Elizabeth Soto, Ron Sider and Jim Wallis.

Rev. C.T. Vivian, a member of the Originating Committee and one of the leaders of the Civil Right Movement in the United States, sees parallels between the present historical moment in America and the time sixty years ago when he first stepped into the public arena as a colleague of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King.  Vivian says:

“Now as then we have this popular groundswell seeking greater equity and opportunity.  Now as then we have forces of reaction determined to smother reform.  Now as then we need the wisdom and moral authority of people of faith in the public arena, protecting and supporting the worth and rights of all people.”

The lead organizer of the Call, John K. Stoner, commented on the sensitive political dynamics at play:

“The election of Donald Trump is a flashpoint for many people because of the tone of his campaign.  But the widespread anxiety, fear and confusion people are feeling pre-dates his election and campaign.  The gospel of Jesus Christ has always been intensely political without ever being narrowly partisan.  This document is rooted in that gospel and reflects the same spirit.  It asks congregations to join together locally and put themselves on the line for the vulnerable, for a foreign policy seeking peace, for a just economic order.”

Accompanying the Call is an Implementation Guide for local congregations and assemblies.  Both documents are available at this website by clicking the highlighted links in this document.