Two evangelicals to pray at Democratic National Convention

 The Obama campaign has come up with a prayer line up that looks, demographically, a lot like America. (List is below.) One of them is evangelical Joel Hunter, a megachurch pastor who has rejected the Christian Right’s agenda — focusing on abortion and gay marriage above all other issues.

The other evangelical, interestingly, is Cameron Strang, publisher of Relevant magazine and the son of Charisma Magazine founder (and Huckabee backer) Stephen Strang. I met the younger Strang at the Religion Newswriters Association convention in 2005, and he’s a bright, personable, impressive young man. [I'm not positive about his age, but I'd guess he's in his late 20s.] Strang’s magazine, Relevant, is one of the most enjoyable religious magazines on the market today.


Press Release

First-Ever Faith Caucus Meetings to be Held at Democratic Convention

Invocators and Benedictors to Include Pastor Joel Hunter, Rabbi David Saperstein, Sister Catherine Pinkerton, Reverend Cynthia Hale, Archbishop Demetrios, Cameron Strang

Plus Coloradans Polly Baca of Greeley, CO, Reverends Kang of Aurora, CO

Interfaith Gathering to Open Convention Week on Sunday, Aug. 24th, featuring Local Clergy Imam Abdur-Rahim Ali, Rabbi Steve Foster, Reverend Lucia Guzman, University of Colorado Student Kathryn Ida

DENVER ? In keeping with Barack Obama?s personal commitment and the commitment of the Democratic Party to put faith in action, the Democratic National Convention Committee (DNCC) and the Obama for America campaign today announced that the 2008 Democratic National Convention will recognize the tireless efforts of those in the faith community working toward the common good.

“Senator Obama is a committed Christian, and he believes that people of all faiths have an important place in American life,? said Joshua Dubois, Obama For America Director of Religious Affairs. ?He’s proud to work with the Democratic National Convention Committee on a Convention that fully engages people of faith in dialogue, celebration and prayer. We are honored that so many religious leaders are reaching across partisan and ideological lines in this Convention to address the values that matter to Americans.”

?Democrats have been, are and will continue to be people of faith ? and this Convention will demonstrate that in an unprecedented way,? said Leah D. Daughtry, CEO of the DNCC. ?As Convention CEO and a pastor myself, I am incredibly proud that so many esteemed leaders from the faith community will be with us to celebrate this historic occasion and honor the diverse faith traditions inside the Democratic Party.?
Each night of the Convention, the official program will begin with an invocation and end with a benediction delivered by a national faith leader or an individual who is active in their local faith community. Among the group selected to deliver these opening and closing prayers are a Republican pastor of a leading Evangelical church in central Florida, a major young Evangelical leader, a nun from a diocese in Cleveland and a Methodist couple, both ordained ministers from Arvada, CO.
National leaders from a range of denominations will host the Convention?s first-ever Faith Caucus meetings during the week where they will discuss bringing people of faith together to address some of the most pressing issues of our time.

On Tuesday, August 26, the Faith Caucus will hold two panel discussions ? ?Common Ground on Common Good,? an opportunity to discuss finding common ground on the moral issues of the day, and ?Faith in 2009: How an Obama Administration will Engage People of Faith.? On Thursday, August 28, the Caucus will convene for ?Moral Values Issues Abroad,? a panel on how the faith community can work together to address pressing moral issues around the world, and ?Getting Out the Faith Vote,? a session on how to appropriately engage communities of faith in the 2008 election.

In addition, a first-ever Democratic National Convention interfaith gathering will kick off the week, bringing delegates, elected officials, local residents, musical guests and spiritual leaders from many communities of faith together for a unique gathering. In addition to keynote remarks, the program will include readings from diverse religious texts, prayers and musical selections.


Monday, August 25
Invocation: Polly Baca, Catholic, Greeley, CO
Benediction: Cameron Strang, Evangelical, Orlando, FL

Tuesday, August 26
Invocation: Dr. Cynthia Hale, Disciples of Christ, Decatur, GA
Benediction: Revs. Jin Ho Kang and Young Sook Kang, Methodist, Aurora, CO

Wednesday, August 27
Invocation: Archbishop Demetrios, Greek Orthodox, New York, NY
Benediction: Sr. Catherine Pinkerton, Catholic, Cleveland, OH

Thursday, August 28
Invocation: Rabbi David Saperstein, Union for Reform Judaism, Washington, DC
Benediction: Pastor Joel Hunter, Evangelical, Northland, FL


Tuesday, August 26
Common Ground on Common Good
Time: 12:00 PM MT
Location: Colorado Convention Center
Moderator: Rev. Jim Wallis
Panelists: Dr. Douglas W. Kmiec
           Rabbi Jack Moline
           Rev. Jennifer Kottler
           Bishop Wilfredo DeJesus
           Rev. John Hunter

Updated: August 16, 2008 — 8:49 pm


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  1. “One of them is evangelical Joel Hunter, a megachurch pastor who has rejected the Christian Right’s agenda — focusing on abortion and gay marriage above all other issues.” Good. Amen. Now if only the U.S. mainline church clergy could focus on something else besides gay issues and find some common ground with Evangelicals, with the global Christian church and with Scripture — like the poor and the helpless.

  2. With all due respect, Mike, the only reason that most mainstream churches are putting any emphasis on “gay issues” is because of pressure from evangelicals, inside and outside their denominations. The people of New Hampshire elected a gay bishop without any fuss or muss or help from anyone. And the Episcopal Church has been hounded for it ever since, leading to a virtual revolt among our African brethren. We put absolutely no focus on the issue, but it has become the sole focus of everyone else. And this is at a time when the Episcopal Church is largely funding these African Anglicans, and trying to engage in widespread hunger relief around the world.

    Ditto the Methodists: A number of gay and lesbian Methodists have become ministers with no focus and no help from anyone. But then their ordinations are attacked by evangelical right wingers who can’t stand the idea.

    Gays and lesbians aren’t going anywhere, and they are just as entitled as anyone else to be church leaders. When the evangelicals realize this, then we can remove the focus from “gay issues” and place it on Christian issues like feeding the poor.

  3. Your view is one on which I would have firmly agreed before I experienced the single-sided in-your-face political approach of the leaders of the (US) Western part of my denomination, where anything “evangelical” is mocked by the politically correct. People who believe in scripture aren’t going anywhere, and they are just as entitled to be leaders in a mainline church as anyone else. When theologically liberal sociocrats realize this, they can focus on what the gospel is about while they also help the gay Christians gain ground.

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