From the Poor People’s Moral Action Congress in June to the start of the 20+ state We Must Do M.O.R.E. National Tour this fall — leading to the Mass Poor People’s Assembly and Moral March on Washington on June 20, 2020 — the Kairos Center has been at the heart of deep-dive organizing across this nation to build the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival.
Throughout all of this, the Kairos Center has continued to provide a deeper study — historical, political, cultural and theological — of the kairos moment in which we find ourselves today, by holding classes, leading webinars, organizing art builds, bringing together strategic convenings (just this fall, on the Bible, water rights, and militarism), and regularly publishing analysis, sermons, and reflection here on the Kairos Center website.
Check out some of the highlights of our work here on the Kairos blog in 2019.
If the leaders of their time — Moses, King, and others — have told us they weren’t getting to the promised land with us, that means they have left us work to do…We need many Martins.
“#BibleLiteracy, Jerry Falwell Jr., and the Battle for the Bible Today” by Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis:
What is at the central core of our sacred texts is protecting the poor and vulnerable and lifting the load of poverty and oppression.
In the moment it was all about trying what you could think to try, assessing and reassessing the moment … They had to pick their way through the actual world. And so must we.
“‘If we fail in our struggle, Christianity will have failed’: Beulah Sanders, Welfare Rights, and the Church” by Colleen Wessel-McCoy:
Rarely does the church talk in these terms about poverty and rarer still is the church listening to the leadership of the poor as exhibited by Sanders and NWRO. Most often churches respond with charity, and even our social justice committees fall short realizing what Sanders does: the church belongs to the poor.
“Stations of the Cross: Aberdeen Reality Tour in Grays Harbor County, WA” by Aaron Scott/Chaplains on the Harbor:
Joined by our bishop, clergy from around the diocese, and folks living on the streets, we traced the last steps of Jesus while telling the untold story of people experiencing poverty and homelessness in Grays Harbor County.
The National Emergency Truth & Poverty Bus Tour
In the spring of 2019, we featured coverage from the Poor People’s Campaign’s National Emergency Truth & Poverty Bus Tour in a number of states, as well as important strategic analysis of the purpose of poverty bus tours in our organizing model of the poor organizing the poor:
- “Building the Power of the Poor Through Organizing Tours” by Charon Hribar
- “What’s a Poverty Bus Tour? From the New Freedom Bus Tour to the National Emergency Truth and Poverty Tour” by Amy Miller
- “History is a Continuous Struggle: Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis on the 1969 Charleston Hospital Workers Strike” by Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis
- “‘We Need Many Douglasses & Tubmans’: The Poor People’s Campaign & Lessons from ‘North Star Country’” by Tim Shenk
- “‘Spill the Tea!’ Reflections from the Massachusetts Truth and Poverty Bus Tour” by Savina Martin
- “‘Moving at the Speed of Trust’: The National Emergency Truth and Poverty Tour in Oregon” by Michaela McCormick
The Poor People’s Moral Action Congress
In June, over a thousand poor people, clergy, and moral leaders gathered in our nation’s capital for the Poor People’s Moral Action Congress. At the Congress, we launched our Poor People’s Moral Budget, confronted 2020 presidential candidates with our REAL national emergencies, spent a day learning and teaching the skills we need to build a movement for the long-haul, and testified in front of the House Congressional Budget Committee to tell the truth about poverty, racism, militarism, and ecological devastation in the United States. Learn more about the Moral Action Congress through these pieces from the Kairos blog:
We need a real, serious conversation on poverty, led by the impacted. We have a moral crisis in this country. People in this committee admit there are people in their towns who are hurting—well what are you gonna to do about it?!
“The Poor People’s Moral Budget: Everybody Has the Right to Live” edited by Shailly Gupta Barnes, Lindsay Koshgarian, and Ashik Siddique:
This Budget shows that it is possible to invest our resources in the ways demanded by this Campaign and our moral and Constitutional values: to establish justice, domestic tranquility, security, and the general welfare for all. It shows, too, just how wasteful systemic injustice is.
“Explaining the 140 Million: Breaking Down the Numbers Behind the Moral Budget” by Shailly Gupta Barnes:
There are 140 million poor and low-income people in this country…These numbers must be taken seriously. Despite current efforts by the Trump administration, we cannot hide these numbers behind restrictive definitions or measurements of poverty.
“Love Your Class! Considerations for Building a Statewide Movement in Pennsylvania” by Nijmie Dzurinko:
We decide that the poor and dispossessed are important — of every color, every background, every gender, every age, every religion, every ability, every political persuasion.
“Unite the Poor! Updates from the National Union of the Homeless” by Savina Martin:
We are part of a much broader, global war waged against the poor. Whether it is the Shack dwellers in South Africa People, tent encampments in Oregon and California, or the hidden poor of West Virginia and Aberdeen, Washington, all of the world people are made poor, kept poor, and criminalized and dehumanized for their poverty. We stand together with the poor in the US and across the world, because we know that we are in a fight for our lives. What can we do? We must study, unite, and mobilize!
“‘Let the Oppressed Go Free’: The Liberatory Tradition of Yom Kippur” by Noam Sandweiss-Back and Dan Jones:
We can always turn away from the worship of false idols and the tools of bondage and death and go and seek God where the divine always dwells: among the poor in the struggle for freedom.
We Must Do M.O.R.E. National Tour
This fall, the Poor People’s Campaign launched a 20+ state We Must Do M.O.R.E. National Tour. M.O.R.E. stands for mobilizing, organizing, registering and educating people for the movement who will vote. It will culminate on Saturday, June 20, 2020 with the Mass Poor People’s Assembly and Moral March on Washington. The Kairos Center has been covering the tour across the country, including photo essays using powerful images by Steve Pavey:
- “The Poor People’s Campaign Launches the We Must Do M.O.R.E. Tour!“
- “‘A Movement is Breaking Through’: Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis’ Sermon at the El Paso MORE Tour” by Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis
- “Images from the Border: We Must Do MORE Tour in El Paso, TX“
- “‘Make Our Churches War Rooms Again!’ A Prayer from the NC Poor People’s Campaign” by Rev. Dr. Daran Mitchell
- “‘We Too Are America!’ The We Must Do MORE Tour in Greenville and Greensboro, North Carolina“
- “‘Let’s Make This Movement’: The We Must Do MORE Tour in Maine and New Hampshire“
For us it is here at the border where the future of the nation is being shaped. In our history, borders have defined the character of our nation. It was the Statue of Liberty and Ellis island that represented the best of the ideals of America. That we were an exceptional nation because of immigrants and immigration. And today, it seems that some might want to forget that. That is why, here, in front of you, our communities declare that the US-Mexico border is indeed the New Ellis Island.
I couldn’t understand why a country that is supposed to be the richest nation has so many poor people.
New Book: “Jesus Led a Poor People’s Campaign: Sermons from the Movement to End Poverty“ by Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis, Solita Alexander Riley, Aaron Scott, Rev. Jessica C. Williams, Rev. Erica N. Williams, Willie Baptist, Rev. Dan Chadwick, Rev. Emily McNeill, and Colleen Wessel-McCoy
This new collection of sermons, many from the Kairos Center archive, features religious and community leaders committed to the unity and organization of the poor for a powerful social movement to end poverty. Order a copy here!
Support the Kairos Center
With your support, the Kairos Center has been able to accomplish so much with very limited resources. But now, the daily, unrelenting threats in this kairos moment demand that we expand our work. Over the next two years, we must significantly grow our reach and impact. And, for that, we need your support.
We hope that we can count on you to join us in building a social movement powerful enough to challenge and change the status quo. Please give generously to the Kairos Center.