YDS launches initiative on faith and poverty

A "Mobilizing Faith, Fighting Poverty" campaign will launch this week at the National Press Club to stir people of faith to action during Lent – and to ensure that society's obligations to the neediest are not forgotten in the current fiscal debate.

Organized by Yale Divinity School and International Relief & Development, the event on Ash Wednesday features panel discussion on the politics of poverty and on the hopes that the world can turn a corner against global conditions that force 2.6 billion people to live on less than $2 a day.

Sen. Chris Coons, a Delaware Democrat and a YDS graduate, will deliver remarks on current policy debates and prospects for the government's beleaguered anti-poverty programs, as well as address the importance of engaging the religious community in the struggle against poverty.  Coons is a member of the Senate's Budget and Foreign Relations Committees. He has worked with the Council for the Homeless, the "I Have a Dream" Foundation, and the South African Council of Churches.

The event, scheduled on the threshold of the soul-searching Christian season of Lent, launches a six-week period of focus on poverty, inviting people of faith to pledge to keep poverty in the public eye and in their own faithful practices in the days leading to Easter, April 24, and beyond.

"The sheer persistence of poverty challenges us to heed our call as Christians to respond to the needs of the least among us both in the U.S. and around the globe," says YDS Dean Harold W. Attridge, who will host the gathering.

"While acknowledging our own faults and failings, this Lent could be a time for reflection and commitment to action to respond to that historic call. The voices of religious communities should step forward to enrich and push public discussion of poverty, its causes and solutions. Let's together challenge poverty in Lent 2011."

Doors will open at 5:30 p.m., and the program will begin at 5:40 p.m. Panelists include Arthur Keys, President and CEO of International Relief and Development; David Beckman, President of Bread for the World; Melinda St. Louis, Deputy Director of Jubilee USA; and Katherine Marshall, Executive Director of World Faith Dialogues. YDS Alumna Linda Lader, co-founder of Renaissance Weekend, will moderate the discussion. Other national religious leaders are expected to attend.

A question-and-answer session will follow the discussion, and the evening will conclude with a reception, 7:00-7:30 p.m.

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