Bipartisan Christian leaders of all walks discuss social issues weeks before presidential election
CHICAGO, IL — Evangelical Christians with a passion for empowering the disenfranchised and saving the planet will put aside their political and denominational differences next month at the 19th Annual Christian Community Development Association (CCDA) Conference, a gathering of members of the largest Christian community development organization in the nation. At the event, held this year in Miami, the 2000-plus member group will tackle some of the core issues defining the current presidential race—unity, peace, change, and the environment–from a faith-based perspective, with a common focus on being a voice for the voiceless.
A September Newsweek noted: “Since 2004…evangelicals have softened. Sure, they still care about abortion and gay marriage. But a new, outspoken generation also cares about global warming, Darfur, illiteracy, human trafficking, preventable disease…Eager to help care for the planet, these Christians are building bridges between left and right, between the secular and the devout…” Sept 6, 2008
“This call for unity, change and bridge-building is not just political rhetoric to us,” says Noel Castellanos, CCDA’s CEO. “Bridging racial, socio-economic and political divides and fostering hope amidst the devastation in our poorer communities at home and abroad–are pillars of CCDA’s overall mission. If that passion makes us “new evangelicals” then that’s what we are!”
The CCDA conference theme of “Seeking the Shalom of the City” offers speakers and presenters that represent both older guard and younger movers and shakers, tackling issues as diverse as adult illiteracy, environmental racism, global partnerships, children and poverty, fighting gentrification, time-banking, asset-mapping and radical unity, in more than 120 workshops. Speakers at the event include: association founder and activist Dr. John Perkins, author of Let Justice Roll Down and 2008 Evangelical Christian Publisher’s Association Lifetime Achievement Award winner; Soong Chan Rah, seminary professor, theologian and expert on the emerging Asian-American church; Phil Jackson, director of the National Student Leadership Intensive, and pastor of The House, one of the nation’s few “hip hop” churches reaching urban youth; Juanita Irizarry, DePaul professor, public policy and housing development expert, and Harvard MPA; and Shane Claiborne, activist and touring author of the popular Jesus for President: Politics for Ordinary Radicals.
With the presidential election six weeks away, the political power held by “new evangelicals” who faithfully attend conferences like CCDA’s is noteworthy, as both parties vie for swing votes. How candidates intend to tackle social and environmental issues such as those being explored at “Seeking the Shalom of the City,” is an important part of the discussion for younger Christian voters who are serious about living out their faith in meaningful ways.
As CCDA conference presenter Shane Claiborne notes, “It’s certainly easy to walk into a voting booth every four years and feel like you’re going to change the world, but that’s not going to do it,” he told CNN, soberly. “The call of Christ has more to do with how people live their lives on November 3rd and 5th, than how they vote on November 4th.”
CCDA was founded by Dr. John Perkins and Dr. Wayne Gordon in 1989 with a vision to gather and train Christian leaders who seek to bear witness to the kingdom of God by reclaiming and restoring under-resourced communities.
For more information, visit www.ccda.org
We value your input and suggestions.
Your comments and recommended resources are welcome in the comments box below.