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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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United against poverty

More than 15 top Minnesota religious leaders — Jewish, Islamic, Christian, including Protestants and Roman Catholics — gathered in St. Paul, Minn., March 31 to publicly sign a set of common principles undergirding their work and advocacy to combat poverty. The group says this is the first time in their state a wide spectrum of religious leaders have rallied around shared principles for this work.

Three ELCA bishops signed the document: Peter Rogness, St. Paul Area Synod; Harold Usgaard, Southeastern Minnesota Synod; and Rolf Wangberg, Northwestern Minnesota Synod. The other three Minnesota bishops intend to sign.

The principles, which will inform the groups' direct service and inform their judgments on public policies and proposals, say government and religious groups share responsibility for alleviating poverty and that society is "well-served when people of faith bring their values in the public arena."

The principles state that it's "the Creator's intent that all people are provided those things that ... make for healthy life: adequate food and shelter, meaningful work, safe communities, health care and education."

Wangberg cautioned that poverty in Minnesota isn't confined to the Twin Cities. "There are teenagers living under bridges in Fargo-Moorhead because they have no place to go," he said. "We're asking people to think about this issue all over the state. The poor are the most neglected in our society."


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