CBF’s Advocacy in Action was held in Washington, D.C. March 10-12 and KBF was represented by Mark Howell (Minister of Missions at FBC Frankfort & Chair of the KBF Missions Team) and Chris Liles (Minister with Youth, Broadway Baptist). Advocacy in Action brings together CBF pastors, laity, seminary students, college students, and field personnel to explore advocacy as a faithful expression of Christian mission, learn how to be an effective advocate (locally, nationally, and globally), interact with hands-on ministries among most-affected populations through CBF missions, and connect with DC-area congregations to experience local church advocacy.
Stephen Reeves and Devita Parnell of CBF led the event, along with David Gushee who is serving CBF in 2014 as theologian-in-residence. Highlights of our time in Washington included:
- A visit to the office of CBF partner Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty where Holly Hollman (General Counsel) led us in a discussion on current religious liberty issues in the United States,
- A discussion with David Gushee regarding the Biblical Basis for Advocacy,
- A discussion with Rachel Anderson (Director of Faith Outreach, Center for Responsible Lending) regarding predatory lending,
- A discussion with Kristen Sabella (Immigration Coordinator, National Association of Evangelicals) and Beau Underwood (Senior Director of Advocacy, Sojourners) regarding immigration reform and Christian advocacy,
- A visit to the office of CBF partner Bread for the World to discuss hunger and poverty,
- Visits with our United States Congressional Leaders. Chris Liles and Josh Speight met with Congressman John Yarmuth’s office, Mark Howell met with Congressman Andy Barr’s office,
- Visiting National Baptist Memorial Church where CBF Moderator-Elect Kasey Jones serves as Pastor,
- A discussion with Hannah McMahan (National Coordinator, New Baptist Covenant) regarding the New Baptist Covenant and local covenants of action,
- A visit with White House Staff and Melissa Rogers (Special Assistant to the President and Executive Director, White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships) at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building next to The West Wing,
Our trip reinforced for me that as Christians, we have both the right and the responsibility to advocate for those whose voice is on the margins or is perceived to be excluded from our democracy. The Church has a role to play in the public square to guide public policy in regards to equality and issues of religious liberty. Many of these issues relate to CBF’s eight mission communities (www.missioncommunities.org): Poverty and Transformation Ministries, Disaster Response Ministries, International Ministries, Church Starts & Faith Sharing Ministries, Justice & Peacemaking Ministries, Healthcare Ministries, Economic Development Ministries, Education Ministries. Each of these communities, though not exclusive to the assets of our congregations, give us a better understanding of how to be the embodiment of Christ in the world. Our faith calls us to advocate for justice - we are called to action. Not because of political motivations, but because we serve a God that first created us and first loved us. To deny this gift of grace to any other person is to deny it to ourselves. May God bless us in the hard task of speaking up and advocating for God’s justice in our nation and in our world.