Christian leaders ask presidential candidates how they’ll fight poverty

MC USA leaders add their voices to call for a focus on ending hunger and poverty

Feb 2, 2015 by

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WASHINGTON — Mennonite Church USA leaders have joined with a group of Christian leaders looking ahead to what the next president might do to address hunger and poverty.

The group of 100 Christian leaders, which includes MC USA executive director Ervin Stutzman and Mennonite Central Committee U.S. executive director J Ron Byler, is challenging all presidential candidates to appear in a video stating how they propose to provide help and opportunity to hungry and poor people in the U.S. and abroad.

“We are praying for a president who will make ending hunger and poverty a top priority of his or her administration. Are you that leader?” asks a statement from the group. The full statement is available online at

The leaders, convened by the Circle of Protection, represent an array of Christian denominations, churches, colleges and agencies. The coalition is composed of more than 65 heads of denominations, relief and development agencies and other Christian organizations.

“We want to be a part of reminding our national leaders of the priorities of who we are as a people, and we want to make sure that all people are cared for,” Stutzman said. “We know that both the church and the government play important roles in providing a circle of protection around those in need. We want to hear from candidates about how they intend to make caring for the poor a priority.”

In their statement, the leaders said: “We want to know how each candidate proposes to fulfill the mandate to those who govern to ‘give deliverance to the needy’ ” (Psalm 72).

According to U.S. Census data, 49 million Americans are at risk of hunger, and 45 million live in poverty. One in five children lives in poverty. That is 15 million children, 5 million of them under age 6.

MC USA and MCC were invited to sign on to the statement through their involvement with Christian Churches Together. CCT enables Christian churches to fellowship, witness and work together across divisive lines.

Andre Gingerich Stoner, director of interchurch relations and holistic witness for MC USA, called the initiative “a wonderful example of the kind of witness that is possible when we have trusting relationships and ongoing earnest conversation within the body of Christ.”

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