Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus and Christians from almost every denominational stripe will gather on June 11 at the Washington National Cathedral for an interfaith convocation dedicated to ending hunger and poverty.
The convocation is sponsored by the Christian anti-hunger group Bread for the World as part of its three-day conference that will gather hundreds of religious leaders from across the country, including featured preacher William J. Shaw, president of the National Baptist Convention, USA.
"I don't know of any event in U.S. religious history that involves such a range of national religious leaders," said the Rev. David Beckmann, Bread for the World's president. "Anybody who tries to talk to God knows that you can't have a relationship with the sacred if you walk by a hungry person." Beckmann said.
Bread for the World's first interfaith conference in 2005 brought together Christians from diverse backgrounds for the first time and helped solidify support for the new ecumenical group Christian Churches Together in the USA.
As evangelicals and conservative Christians expand their advocacy to include a broad range of issues -- from global warming to HIV/AIDS -- Beckmann said they're finding common ground with mainline Protestant, Catholic and historically African-American churches.
Beckmann said he's hoping a similar partnership centered on ending hunger emerges between Muslims and Jews attending this year's meeting.
"It is a uniting issue," he said. "Muslims, Christians and Jews together understand that God wants more of our nation than what we're doing."
After the interfaith convocation, the 700-odd participants in Bread for the World's "Gathering 2007" will head to Capitol Hill to lobby Congress on the 2007 Farm Bill, which Beckmann said is "just not just."
"There's large amounts of money going to well-off people that's bypassing poor people," he said. "This system is doing damage. It's eating up money from the people who really need it."