The 14th annual Ecumenical Advocacy Days, a gathering of men and women of faith, met in Washington during the month of April. Over 1,000 participated in this conference with a desire to learn and contribute to the promotion of peace and justice. This theme underscored the positive quality of life for all. The weekend, sponsored by the Ecumenical Christian Community, was filled with an abundance of opportunities to learn, share and carry out its mission to “lift every voice for Voting Rights, Just and Fair Trade.” This goal emphasized the need to speak truth to the power concerning the suppression of political and economic rights and corporate undermining.
Participants were afforded the opportunity to choose any one of the workshops, which were plentiful and diverse. Examples of such offerings included prophetic voices against Drug Wars and Border Militarism, the Syrian Conflict, Global policies and its affect on people, economic inequality among the mass, the health care system, Panama Papers, Puerto Rico humanitarian crisis, Fair Food Programs, High Frequency Trade and its effect in addition to many other offerings.
The beginning session was extremely inspiring as the keynote Speaker, Rev. Dr. William Barber, President of the Carolina NAACP, asked the question “Can these Bones Live”, a parallel to the question put before the prophet in Ezekiel 27. Bones, you say? Why the Bones are the people who have been beaten down.
What about the prophetic voice of today. The prophetic preaching is not in the hands of the prophet but in the hands of politics and economic justice. As followers of Jesus Christ, we discern what really matters and speak to the powers which hold people down. Name the powers-raise up our voices against oppression. Challenge the powers and the bones will have a chance to live. Every voice should be heard in order that all will have possibilities.
The inspiration of Dr. Barber continued towards lunch as the world renowned child advocate Marion Wright Edelman presented a keynote address entitled “The Cradle to Prison Pipeline, which affects poor people throughout the world and United States.
The theme for the three day conference underlined discriminatory policies, which are related to race and human rights suppression. Are all classes free to vote? Hardly, for this injustice is experience through voter suppression, poll taxes and violent opposition to calls for change
Class and Power infiltrates many avenues in the Unites states and the world. Recent headline captured the Panama Papers. This topic fed into the sub theme=power through economic injustice. The background shed a light on Anonymous Companies, which are set up to evade taxes. The companies make tremendous amount of money and yet, escape justice because they hide behind lawyers. Solution-Every country have public registration of Beneficial Ownership Information. Now before the Senate, is the Law Enforcement Assistance Act.
High Frequency trade should be eliminated for the stock market serves the economy…not economy serves the stock market. There is economic injustice behind the High Frequency Trades.
There is deep concern for Puerto Rico and the tremendous child Poverty within the country. Advocates were urged to call congress to Act for Puerto Rico.
Religious leaders are also asked to call for Jubilee for creditors that hold Puerto Rico debt. The Organization ‘Jubilee” is promoting an oversight Board for this purpose.
In regard to Syria and the conflict, a political solution would help the society. The road to end the conflict is not through war but through peace. Terrorism is not the answer. Ways to transform the conflict rests with Economic pressure, finding a negotiated solution, humanitarian assistance for people suffering, a coordinated strategy for defusing the violence, significant reduction in the flow of arms and most important, a peace building strategy for the conflict. In order to stop terrorism, Syrian activists have resisted Isis through demonstrations, business boycotts, and alternative media. Over the years, nonviolent civilian “resistance has proven to be twice as effective as armed struggle.” The basis rests with God’s promise that “justice and peace shall embrace” Psalm 85:10 embodies the holistic vision for God’s Shalom.”
Food, Justice and job opportunities are basis for a strong society. All citizens should have the ability to determine the best policies for their communities and our nation. As Christians, God calls us to lift up all voices to achieve influence for policies that affect our nation.
Jesus Advocates for peace and justices. Thereby we are called to be advocates. The conference ended with rich legislature instruction, which were put to use.
Honorably Retired Rev. Dr. Barbara Floryshak served as a called pastor at Tribes Hill Presbyterian Church and currently serves part-time as Chaplain at the Albany VA. Barbara likes to “keep going” and welcomes opportunities to serve and stay active. She hopes to never have to “retire.”
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