Monday, February 2, 2009

Legislative Breakfast Forum

This past year I have had the privilege of serving as chairperson for an ecumenical group called Missouri Christians Against Racism and Poverty. Each year we sponsor a Legislative Breakfast Forum that provides an opportunity for faith leaders from across our state to meet with state legislators to discuss issues confronting our state. The forum provides a context for the faith community to become advocates for the most vulnerable in our state. This year the Legislative Breakfast Forum was held on Wednesday, January 28, at the Capitol Plaza Hotel in Jefferson City.

Last year our forum subject was "tax justice." This year our topic was "Moving toward Quality, Accessible Health Care for All Missouri." Our MOCARP Plan Team has said, "As citizens of a democracy, American Christians have both an opportunity and obligation to help give voice to those who are poor and disenfranchised. Our churches have made an intentional commitment to oppose all marginalization in our society. Deep care and concern for our state encourages us to press our government to be the best, most honorable, and most fair that it can in all matters, but particularly those related to opportunity for health care and healing for all our citizens."

The winter weather diminished our crowd a little, but I felt our breakfast forum was a success, and I was grateful for those who participated. Rabbi Susan Talve, Chairperson for Missouri Health Care for All, spoke to the needs in Missouri. Bishop Barry Howe, Episcopal Diocese of West Missouri, provided a theological response and helped to set our discussions within the context of our Christian faith.

The Legislative Panelists included Senator Rita Heard Days, Democrat, 14th District; Representative J. C. Kuessner, Democrat, 152nd District; and Cynthia Davis, Republican, 19th District. One additional Republican Senator was unable to attend. Rev. John Bennett, Outreach Coordinator for Missouri IMPACT and retired minister of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), served as moderator for the event.

MOCARP includes representatives of the following churches: African Methodist Episcopal Church, African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, Baptist General Convention of Missouri, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, The Episcopal Church, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Presbyterian Church USA, United Church of Christ, and The United Methodist Church. I am grateful for the opportunity to join with other Christian voices as we seek to become advocates for justice for all people.

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