From the Worldwide Faith News archives

Help end child poverty, NCC board told

Date 28 Feb 2001 18:41:30

Feb. 28, 2001 News media contact: Linda Bloom·(212) 870-3803·New York

NOTE: This report is accompanied by a sidebar, UMNS story #103.

NEW YORK (UMNS) - The leader of the Children's Defense Fund has challenged
National Council of Churches (NCC) members to join a new campaign to
eliminate child poverty within 10 years.

Marian Wright Edelman, speaking during the Feb. 26-27 NCC executive board
meeting, pointed out that her organization's new effort to "Leave No Child
Behind" meshes well with the NCC's own mobilization against poverty.

The longtime children's advocate talked about Martin Luther King Jr.'s
commitment to the poor and used statistics to show that an even higher
percentage of America's children live in poverty than in 1968, the year King
was assassinated. Despite the past eight years of unprecedented economic
growth, she noted, "our children are in great peril when we have a great
capacity to do something about it."

Goals of "Leave No Child Behind" include laying out a broad national vision
for dealing with child poverty, reducing the number of poor children by half
by 2004 and eliminating the problem within 10 years.

But Edelman doesn't believe that a traditional campaign, with a focus on
legislation and lobbying, is enough. What's required, she told NCC board
members, is a massive, powerful moral witness - a movement as strong as the
civil rights movement was back in the 1960s.

The Rev. Robert Edgar, a United Methodist who serves as the NCC's chief
executive, agreed during the meeting to serve on the "Leave No Child Behind"
steering committee. Another NCC executive, the Rev. Eileen Lindner, has been
giving staff time to the Children's Defense Fund.

The NCC has started its own decade of the Mobilization to Overcome Poverty
by consulting with its committees and ecumenical and interfaith groups;
developing partnerships with organizations such as the Children's Defense
Fund, Call to Renewal, Habitat for Humanity and Bread for the World; and
sponsoring a February consultation with ecumenical agencies to assess the
effects of welfare reform. In the following months, teams for planning,
research, communications and fund raising will be developed. A consultation
to identify priority issues for a legislative agenda is set for October.

In other business, Edgar described the agency's financial situation as
something of a miracle. "We had a $5.9 million deficit in 1999 and in
calendar year 2000, we balanced the budget," he said. Part of the miracle he
attributes to $2 million in contributions from member communions.

It was noted during the budget report that one denomination still owes
$153,000 of its commitment. Bishop Melvin Talbert, ecumenical officer for
the United Methodist Council of Bishops, said later that he expects the
denomination to honor that pledge.

Barbara Ellen Black, the NCC's general manager, reported that revenues have
continued to lag, particularly because expected money from Americorp and
foundation grants has not been received yet. However, she said expenditures
are stabilizing. Edgar pledged the staff would achieve a balanced budget for
the six-month period between January and July of this year.

Executive board members elected Wesley M. "Pat" Pattillo, a Southern Baptist
from Birmingham, Ala., as the agency's new associate general secretary for
communications. He will begin his duties on April 16, overseeing
communications for both the NCC and its international ministry, Church World

Currently North American representative for Hong Kong Baptist University,
Pattillo previously served the Southern Baptist Convention's flagship
institution, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., for
14 years and Samford University in Birmingham for eight years.

Concern over the situation in Colombia led board members to adopt a
resolution on "Peace in Colombia and U.S. Counter-narcotics Policy,"
referring specifically to the "Plan Colombia" aid package before Congress.

That package "will draw the U.S. deeper into Colombia's civil war,
potentially intensifying the conflict, undermining democracy and the rule of
law, and making the U.S. complicit in human rights violations," the
resolution stated.

Instead, the NCC, Church World Service, and their member communions will
advocate for policies and programs that would support drug treatment and
prevention programs to reduce drug demand in the United States. They also
reject an increased U.S. military involvement in Colombia and the Andean
region. The groups support a negotiated peace process; humanitarian,
development and environmental initiatives; and other reforms for Colombia,
along with strengthening cooperation with ecumenical partners and civil
society organizations there.

In other action, NCC executive board members:
·	Endorsed Campaign Exxon/Mobil, a national coalition of religious and
environmental groups working to urge Exxon/Mobil to take full responsibility
for its role in climate change and end its false claims about global
·	Called upon the United States and the international community to
address banning the production, transfer and use of depleted uranium
weapons, and upon NATO countries to repair the environmental damage done to
·	Endorsed the concept of a proposed Second Conference on Faith and
Order in North America.    

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