COMPASSIONATE ACTIVISM in joining the battle to overcome poverty
In giving thanks for God’s plentful blessings,
let us affirm
BY ROBERT DOCTER –
In a decisive effort to move the territory toward actualization of its vision to be “compassionately active in serving humanity,” Commissioner David Edwards, territorial commander, has challenged Salvationists to help all people climb out and stay out of poverty.
Initially, Edwards seeks to obtain commitments from every person involved with the Army in the West to join together in a “Covenant to Overcome Poverty.” The campaign was developed by a network of religious leaders from throughout the country titled Call to Renewal. The group met under the leadership of Jim Wallis whose latest book “Faith Works” offers specific plans to aid the process of social transformation through faith-based activism. Lt. Col. Paul Bollwahn, the Army’s national social service consultant, has been part of the network team.
“In many ways, this ‘religious war on poverty’ replicates many existing Army programs and duplicates the social activism of William Booth,” stated Lt. Colonel Ray Peacock, territorial program secretary and coordinator of the Army’s effort in the campaign in the West. “Our Territorial vision statement calls us to this kind of compassionate activism as it asks us to ‘continually identify unmet needs in the community, find resources to meet those needs, help others identify and use their gifts of service and mercy, and partnering with other social ministries in the community.'” Peacock said.
Peacock noted that the consortium of leaders that developed the campaign have urged people to reject poverty as immoral, just as earlier Christian activists fought slavery and segregation. They also seek to challenge Christians to embrace more fully the biblical imperative to care for those Jesus called “the least of these who are members of my family.” These Christian leaders come from diverse theological and political backgrounds and have come together to challenge this nation to move poverty to a higher place on the moral and political agenda. “The church in general and the Army specifically have distinct responsibilities to spearhead this call for action,” Peacock said.
“This wealthiest nation on the face of the earth must not be satisfied with the fact that one in five children in America grow up in poverty. For children of color, it is one in three. The gap between those among us with plenty and those among us with little or nothing widens. The time has come for action.”