You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times. - Matthew 16:3
A little more than one year ago the Poverty Initiative joined in the launching of a new effort – Kairos: The Center for Religions, Rights, and Social Justice – to help us all in the urgent task of understanding better and more effectively responding to our time.
The signs of our time are painfully hard to miss: record staggering levels of inequality, economic deprivation and insecurity, and massive poverty; deeply entrenched gender inequity and racial discrimination manifested in voter repression, mass incarceration and police brutality; unlimited funds for wars and grossly inadequate funds for infrastructure, education, housing and other essential services; and a political system that does nothing but raise and obey money, an immigration system that breaks rather than welcomes families, and an energy policy that threatens human existence.
This is what the Bible calls a Kairos time. A Kairos time is one of deep, prolonged and widespread crisis and suffering. It is also, thank God, a time of new and unsettling opportunity, a time when out of the crisis a new reality can be seen, often in the eruption and growth of new movements, struggling to enter our world and our lives. Each of us is called to take decisive action together, to assist that radically different, and better, more just and loving vision become the reality for all people everywhere.
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Leaders who participated in the Poverty Initiative’s April 2014 Strategic Dialogue on Art and Culture in Movement Building, Building a Poor People’s Campaign for Today.

Photo: Jose Vasquez

This is the purpose to the Kairos Center – to contribute to transformative social movements for rights, equality, and justice that can draw on the power of both human rights and religion to move us toward a new reality, toward God’s reality.
We are doing this by building on, strengthening and expanding the work of the Poverty Initiative, which for more than a decade has been raising up generations of religious and community leaders committed to building a social movement to end poverty led by the poor.
In those 10 years, the Poverty Initiative has trained more than 1000 leaders from 350 organizations and religious congregations, held 12 Strategic Dialogues, 3 National Poverty Truth Commissions, 2 Leadership Schools, 12 semester long courses, 20+ one credit courses, 12 immersion programs, and dozens of other conferences and public events, published 4 books, and contributed to the successful organizing campaigns of dozens of groups including victories such as the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights in NY, the passage of universal health care in Vermont, the first living wages for stadium workers nationwide at Camden Yards Baseball Stadium, the fair food movement that has brought the fast food industry, grocery industry and even Walmart to its knees spearheaded by Farmworkers with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, finding the slums clearance act of South Africa unconstitutional, and winning memorial services and access to the resting places of hundreds of thousands poor and homeless people buried at Potters Field, among many more.
This work has now become the foundation of two core inter-related programs of the Kairos Center. The Religion and Rights Program works in partnership with engaged scholars and social movements from North Carolina to South Africa, Brazil, Niger, India and elsewhere to understand better how the power of religions is advancing social justice. The second inseparable program is connecting these and growing struggles around the country and world into a broad and powerful new Poor People’s Campaign to end poverty, economic insecurity and hardship in our time, carrying on the unfinished work of Dr. Martin Luther King’s response to the Kairos moment of his time.
The images below will give you an idea of what we have done in our first year, in responding to the call for decisive action. It is only a beginning but it has generated great hope. To realize that hope we need you, your support, ideas and action. Please join us in creating a new reality.
 
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