Ruth Messinger Joins Other Faith-Based Leaders at White House Meeting on Sudan

Faith Leaders Deliver Letter Signed by over 1,400 Clergy and Underscore Commitment to Peace in Sudan

Washington, D.C; October 2, 2009– Representatives from faith communities nationwide met with Reverend Joshua DuBois, Director of the White House Office of Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, today, to discuss the ongoing violence in Sudan. The leaders are members of the Interfaith Sudan Working Group, a coalition of faith-based organizations working for lasting peace in Sudan. During the meeting, Rev. DuBois expressed that Sudan is a critical issue for President Obama and that faith groups play an important role in drawing attention to the ongoing tragedy there.

At the meeting, Dr. Stephen Colecchi, director of the Office of International Justice and Peace for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops delivered the Interfaith Sudan Working Group letter signed by 1,410 Christian, Jewish and Muslim Clergy. The letter asks the Obama administration to work with multilateral coalitions to ensure that the Darfuri people can return safely to their homes and begin to rebuild their lives. It also asks the United States to continue to lead for justice and lasting peace in Sudan and work toward full implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement. Furthermore, the letter asks for a resolution in the lesser-known conflict in Eastern Sudan.

To view the letter, please visit:

The faith leaders asked Rev. DuBois to convey their message to President Obama that Sudan should be a priority for his administration. Ruth Messinger, president of the American Jewish World Service stressed that, “Full engagement and leadership now is critical as we move toward elections and the referendum.” Bishop David Jones from the Episcopal Church in Virginia added, “When the U.S. pays attention, the government of Sudan responds. We need the U.S. to take an interest.”

The group also asked administration officials to incorporate important policy recommendations from the Interfaith Sudan Working Group when they convene regular meetings prior to the 2010 Sudanese elections and 2011 referendum. Imam Mohamed Magid, the vice president for the Islamic Society of North America and director of the VA-based ADAMS Center noted that it is important to “reach out to religious leaders on the ground in Sudan to bring peace.” He added that we must “work to empower civil society and advocacy groups in Sudan.”

Galen Carey, the director of government affairs for the National Association of Evangelicals said, “The Comprehensive Peace Agreement was a major achievement, but it is an asset that is being wasted. The next few months are critical to moving things forward.”

Violence against women, which has been reported in staggering numbers recently, was also an area of concern for the faith leaders. Rev. DuBois stated that addressing gender-based violence was a priority for the President. AME Pastor and Co-Founder of My Sister’s Keeper Reverend Gloria White-Hammond articulated that “the impact of gender-based violence lasts long after the assault and effects the entire fabric of the society.”  

Archbishop Vicken Aykazian for the Armenian Church of America conveyed a broader message regarding genocide prevention and history. “If justice is not found in Sudan, there will be more genocide. We would like to find ways to end genocide in the 21st century.”

David Saperstein, director of the Religious Action Center, who was not able to attend the meeting said, “Activists around the world, including many within the North American Jewish community, have committed to continuously raising awareness of and being a voice for Darfur. But this critical issue is not just a call to the Jewish conscience – rather, it is a call to the conscience of all humanity, as genocide knows no religious or ethnic borders. For this reason, we are pleased that a number of prominent faith leaders across the religious spectrum met today with Joshua DuBois to underscore the importance of an interfaith alliance advocating for peace and security in Darfur and Sudan.”

Faith Leaders attending the meeting:

  • Ruth Messinger: President, American Jewish World Service
  • Galen Carey: Director of Government Affairs, National Association of Evangelicals
  • Reverend Gloria White-Hammond: AME Pastor; Co-Founder, My Sister’s Keeper
  • Alissa Karg: Deputy Regional Director for Africa, Lutheran World Relief
  • Pastor Cindy Lapp: Representative, Mennonite Central Committee; Pastor Hyattsville
  • Dr. Stephen Colecchi: Director, Office of International Justice and Peace, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops
  • Bishop David Jones: Bishop, Virginia, Episcopal Church
  • Imam Mohamed Magid: Vice President, Islamic Society of North America; Director, ADAM’S Center
  • Archbishop Vicken Aykazian: Archbishop, Armenian Church of America.

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