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More than 80,000 people join Moral March in North Carolina

Director of Office of Public Witness among those taking part

April 10, 2017

An estimated 80,000 people crowded the streets of Raleigh, North Carolina, over the weekend of February 11 to take part in the 11th annual Forward Together Moral March, led by the Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II. Organizers say it was the largest crowd in the march’s history.

Among those participating was the Rev. Jimmie Hawkins, who recently became director for the Office of Public Witness (OPW) in Washington, D.C.

“It was exhilarating, to say the least, to be in the midst of those committed to rallying around the call to justice,” said Hawkins. “We gathered to lift our voices in opposition to policies which were damaging to the well-being of the most vulnerable in our world.”

The crowd consisted of individuals, churches, nonprofit organizations, young and older adults and people of various cultures. Posters denounced policies connected to the refugee issue, living wages, LGBTQ rights and women’s reproductive health, among others.

“It was of great importance for the OPW to be part of this march because Presbyterians have had a long, rich and varied history of participating in actions supporting civil rights,” said Hawkins. “I reconnected with PC(USA) clergy from across the state of North Carolina, including Durham, Greensboro, Charlotte, Dudley and Chapel Hill.”

Hawkins said it was important the OPW attend and participate in these marches but also continue to advocate before Congress and partner with ecumenical and interfaith coalitions to develop local strategies for activism.

“This march sends a message that people are paying attention to what is happening on both the local and national political stage, and what many see as disturbing, . . . especially people of faith who want their Christian values to play a redeeming role in the wider society,” he said.

Hawkins said Americans want a country where everyone is treated equally and given opportunity to advance.

“We see certain groups and individuals reap more than what they deserve while millions struggle to simply make a living,” said Hawkins. “Christians want to live in a land where compassion and justice are the norms, not the exceptions.”

The North Carolina march was a homecoming for Hawkins who, until joining the OPW, served as pastor of Covenant Presbyterian Church in New Hope Presbytery. He said citizens have been traumatized by state laws and policies that include the refusal to expand Medicaid, low teacher pay and voting restrictions.

“Frustration has been increased by the recent presidential executive orders, especially the refugee ban. Those filled with righteous anger were relieved to know they are not alone,” Hawkins said. “This was a concerted and unified effort to demand that our country protect the rights of migrant and refugee, protect voting rights and support the poor.”

The march was organized by the North Carolina chapter of the NAACP.

Rick Jones, mission communications strategist, Presbyterian Mission Agency

Today’s Focus:  Moral March in North Carolina

Let us join in prayer for:

Presbytery of New Hope Staff

Ted Churn, executive presbyter/stated clerk
Terry Lamberson, associate executive finance/NCD
Christine Kelson, office manager and assistant to executive presbyter/stated clerk
Rene Baker, administrative assistant
Julio Ramirez-Eve, associate for Hispanic ministries
Gun Ho Lee, associate for multicultural ministries
Vanessa Hawkins, associate for nurturing ministries
Andy James, associate for small church ministries and technology

PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff

Mary Jo Besspiata, PMA
Barbara Betts, PMA

Let us pray:

God of new beginnings and second chances, we thank you for never giving up on us. We thank you for the blessing of diversity that calls us to be a truly multiracial, multicultural church. Keep our hearts and minds ever open to welcoming all your children into our communities of faith. Amen.

Revised Common Lectionary Readings for Monday, April 10, 2017, the Monday of Holy Week (Year A)

First Reading Isaiah 42:1-9
Psalm 36:5-11
Second Reading Hebrews 9:11-15
Gospel John 12:1-11


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