Province I Convocation: "Faith, Advocacy and Public Policy"

United States

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The Province I intergenerational convocation takes place November 16-17 at the Doubletree Hotel in Westborough, Massachusetts.

The Rev. Dr. Randall Balmer, professor of American religious history at Barnard College, Columbia University, visiting professor at Yale Divinity School and editor-at-large for Christianity Today, will deliver the keynote address on Friday explaining the scriptural foundation and rationale for engagement in advocacy and the political process. Episcopalians from around Province I (New England) will come together to share their political and advocacy experiences and organizing skills on behalf of social and economic justice.

The convocation will examine the Scriptural roots and historical perspective that compel us to engage in advocacy. "The Gospel of Jesus Christ calls us to be agents of transformation in the world," said James E. Curry, Bishop Suffragan Diocese of Connecticut who is a member of Bishops for a Just Society and Vice-President of the Province One Synod. "In a global society we must be active listeners to the needs of people on the margins and active advocates for justice, mercy, and a sustainable future. The formation of public policy which addresses the needs of all God's people is a primary arena for the ministry of the Episcopal Church."

Participants will receive training on how to be an advocate for social justice, how to build a grassroots network, how to lobby in the political arena and the dos and don’ts of political activity in churches. Age appropriate activities will be offered for children and teens to engage them as active world citizens, including a children’s program track for those under 12. A return of last year’s Convocation’s popular “Discovery Center” will feature hands-on activities for all ages to explore faith in relation to advocacy and today’s issues in our local community, nation and world.

Balmer, a Connecticut resident, has co-written a book on mainline Protestantism. His most recent books are Thy Kingdom Come: How the Religious Right Distorts the Faith and Threatens America, The Encyclopedia of Evangelicalism and Religion in Twentieth Century America, part of the Religion in American Life series. He is currently working on a history of religion in North America and his spiritual memoir, Growing Pains: Learning to Love My Father's Faith, was named book of the year (spirituality) by Christianity Today.

Balmer will join panelists for the Saturday plenary session are: Richard Parker, Senior Fellow of the Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy at John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University and Professor of Religion, Politics, and Public Policy (moderator); Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter (D-First Congressional District, New Hampshire); Bishop M. Thomas Shaw, SSJE, Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts; Maureen Shea, Director of Government Relations, The Episcopal Church; Megan Palmer, MIT Student Campus Ministry.

Massachusetts State Representative Byron Rushing (St. John’s/St. James Parish, Boston) will be the lunch speaker on Saturday and lead a conversation among Episcopal office holders. Shea will lead a workshop on the Millennium Development Goals.

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