Update: Audio of the press conference associated with the prayer vigil and witness on Capitol Hill from April 24 is now available.
Photos of the press conference and public witness are available here.
WASHINGTON – April 24, 2017
Prominent ecumenical coalition calls on House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to protect the vulnerable
Hundreds of clergy and lay leaders from across the country gathered for a prayer vigil in front of the United Methodist Building, 100 Maryland Ave., NE, at 12 p.m. on Monday, April 24th, to urge Congress to reject President Trump’s sinful and immoral federal budget proposal, which makes deeply destructive cuts to programs that address human needs in order to increase Pentagon spending.
Following the vigil, clergy and other religious leaders marched to the Hart Senate Building, where they knelt and prayed in the atrium to draw attention to the magnitude of the harm this budget will cause vulnerable populations in our nation. Due to the prohibition against group gatherings in the Senate office building, 7 leaders, including Ecumenical Advocacy Days Director Douglas Grace, were arrested after refusing the order from U.S. Capitol Police to disperse for a third time. They were processed and released the same day.
The Christian clergy and lay leaders participating in the march are in the nation’s capital for the Lobby Day of the 2017 Ecumenical Advocacy Days for Global Peace with Justice. Close to 1,000 Christians will participate in the EAD conference over the weekend, which is organized around the theme, “Confronting Chaos, Forging Community: Challenging Racism, Materialism and Militarism.”
In the Christian tradition of fasting to petition God to respond to dire circumstances, Ecumenical Advocacy Days participants will fast from sunup to sundown on April 24.
Rev. Dr. Leslie Copeland-Tune, an organizer for Monday’s public witness event, remarked, “The extreme nature of this proposed budget, which would cut funding for programs that help children, the elderly, those who have disabilities, and those protecting God’s creation, to build walls and tanks that we don’t need is sinful and immoral. It goes against our beliefs and values. We reject it. We say no to it. In fact, we say hell no to this sinful budget that would hurt the most vulnerable people in our nation!”
Grace said, “It’s important for us to send a strong message to Congress and the President that this budget is immoral, and we will do all we can to oppose it. We will not be silent or stand idly by while those most in need are harmed. We will not watch as families are ripped apart through mass deportations and our air and water are polluted because of corporate greed and deregulation.”
Key leaders involved in the action included:
- Mr. Douglas Grace, M.Div. S.T.M., Executive Director, Ecumenical Advocacy Days
- Rev. Dr. Susan Henry Crowe, General Secretary, General Board of Church & Society, United Methodist Church
- Rev. Traci Blackmon, Executive Minister of Justice & Witness Ministries, United Church of Christ
- Rev. Jimmie Hawkins, Director, Office of Public Witness, Presbyterian Church (USA)
- Rev. Aundreia Alexander, Esq., Associate General Secretary for Justice and Peace, National Council of Churches of Christ USA
- Dr. Patrick Carolan, Executive Director, Franciscan Action Network
- Rev. Dr. Leslie Copeland Tune, Director, Ecumenical Poverty Initiative
- Rev. Noel Anderson, National Grassroots Coordinator, Church World Service
- Bishop Jose Garcia, Senior Advisor for Prayer and Special Initiatives, Bread for the World
- Rev. Dr. Timothy D. Boddie, General Secretary, Progressive National Baptist Convention
Ecumenical Advocacy Days is a movement of the ecumenical Christian community, and its more than 50 recognized partners and allies, grounded in biblical witness and shared traditions of justice, peace and the integrity of creation. Through worship, theological reflection and opportunities for learning and witness, EAD’s goal is to strengthen Christians’ voice and to mobilize for advocacy on a wide variety of U.S. domestic and international policy issues.