Watkins named to Obama’s faith-based advisory group (4/6/09)
By Rebecca Bowman Woods, DisciplesWorld news and website editor
WASHINGTON (4/6/09) — Sharon E. Watkins, general minister and president of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), has been named to President Barack Obama’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships.
Watkins, who preached at the Presidential Inaugural Prayer Service at the National Cathedral on Jan. 21, is one of 25 faith leaders appointed to the advisory council.
The council "will be a resource for nonprofit and community organizations, both secular and faith-based, looking for ways to make a bigger impact in their communities, learn their obligations under the law, cut through red tape, and make the most of what the federal government has to offer,” according to a White House statement.
Most council members are faith leaders. They include Jim Wallis, president of Sojourners/Call to Renewal; Frank Page, president emeritus of the Southern Baptist Convention; and Joel C. Hunter, senior pastor of Northland Church in Longwood, Fla. Others come from community outreach, non-profit, and higher education circles.
On Monday, Watkins was traveling from Indianapolis to Washington, D.C. for briefings in preparation for the group’s formal chartering and first meeting.
“I’m excited for Disciples to be represented in a council that has to do with partnerships and working in neighborhoods at the local level. I think that’s a natural place for Disciples to have input,” she said.
The advisory council is part of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. Its members will serve one-year terms.
Also on the council is Peg Chemberlin, president-elect of the National Council of Churches (NCC) and executive director of the Minnesota Council of Churches. She will become president of the NCC on Jan. 1, 2010.
The NCC noted that several of its member communions are represented on the advisory council. Bishop Vashti Mackenzie, a presiding bishop with the African Methodist Episcopal Church and William J. Shaw, president of the National Baptist Convention, USA, have both been asked to serve.
Michael Kinnamon, the NCC’s general secretary, praised Obama’s appointments to the advisory council in an NCC news release.
“We commend President Obama for seeing the importance of harnessing the moral and political power of faith-based and neighborhood groups,” Kinnamon said. “The slogan, 'Yes, We Can,' only has meaning when we say it together."
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