US Churches and Obama: 'rolling up sleeves rather than finger-pointing'

Poverty, violence and war are amongst the "enormous and formidable" challenges of the present time, representatives of member churches of the World Council of Churches (WCC) in the United States have pointed out to President Barack Obama on the occasion of his inauguration.

"Ours is not to point fingers at your new administration and say 'Fix it'," members of the Board of the US Conference for the WCC wrote in a letter to Obama dated 20 January. "Rather, ours is to roll up our sleeves and partner with you to help bring about the changes that are so desperately needed for the United States and the world to more closely reflect God's vision for humankind and all of creation."

Greeting Obama as "your sisters and brothers in Christ," the signatories of the letter declare to be "encouraged by [Obama's] commitment to rekindle hope and [his] vision for this country and our world". The letter is signed by members of the Board, heads of churches and associate members of the US Conference for the WCC. The US Conference for the WCC gathers the 34 member churches of the Council in the United States.

"Much is required of you and us if we are to begin to turn things around," the US churches representatives state in their letter to Obama. They propose a nine-item list of issues that need responsibility and work together. It includes: trust amongst nations, national unity, common good rather than self-interest, human dignity over race and class divisions, an economy at the service of the poor, human rights, education, environment and health.

The content of the letter to President Obama was discussed by a number of heads of churches at a plenary session during the 2-4 December 2008 annual meeting of the US Conference for the WCC. One of the participants at that session, Rev. Dr Sharon Watkins, general minister and president of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), has later on been given the responsibility to preach at the prayer service to be held at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., the day after Obama is inaugurated president of the United States.

Full text of the letter from the US Conference for the WCC to President Barack Obama:

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