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Featured Story: POWER's Prophetic Statement for Good Jobs, Great Schools & a Path to Citizenship

Building a City of Opportunity that Works for ALL: A Prophetic Statement

Our city is not working for the good of all.  As faith communities, we are called to speak up and to speak out with the communities that are left out and left behind.

Today in Philadelphia:

  • Close to 30% of our citizens live in poverty…
  • Almost 40% of our children go to sleep hungry each night…
  • Over 200,000 Philadelphians live in deep poverty, living off of less than $5,700 per year…
  • Less than 50% of high school students graduate within the allotted four-year period… 
  • Over 600,000 adults in Philadelphia are low literate, and
  • Thousands of undocumented immigrants live in the shadows of Philadelphia for fear of being ripped away from their families…

We are the poorest big city in America! 

As leaders of multiple faith traditions we stand with the citizens of Philadelphia calling for:

A City of Opportunity that Works for ALL!

In Philadelphia today, there is an unprecedented lack of social mobility. 

GONE ARE THE DAYS, when parents could be assured that their children would have a higher standard of living than they did.

GONE ARE THE DAYS, when a citizen, returning to society could expect employment after serving their time.

GONE ARE THE DAYS, when a high school student could expect meaningful employment after graduation that could support them and their family, and

GONE ARE THE DAYS, when immigrants could come to this country and find their land of opportunity.

Today, we have the preponderance of low wage employment that continues the downward spiral of economic mobility. 

GONE ARE THE DAYS, when there was a strong, vibrant middle class. 

Today, the faith community lifts its collective voice:

WE CALL FOR GOOD JOBS:

We believe that the City of Philadelphia must stop promoting policies that favor the wealthy and start favoring the poor and disadvantaged.  We have learned 30 years later that trickledown economics does not trickle down to those most in need.  Our local economy is at its best when low to moderate income families are given pathways into the middle class.  We call for policies to be created that uses Philadelphia tax dollars to reinvest in the people of Philadelphia through employment opportunities.

WE CALL FOR GREAT SCHOOLS:

We believe that to overcome a history of savage inequality requires extra investment not austerity.  The current state of Philadelphia Public Education reinforces the economic divide that exists in our city.  We believe that a radical overhaul of the school system is necessary to erase the three generations of mis-education provided to students in our city.  We call for processes that make parents full and equal partners with the Philadelphia School District in decision-making about funding and about the direction of our local schools.  We believe that support services must be wrapped around our schools struggling with the lowest achievement.

WE CALL FOR PATHWAYS TO CITIZENSHIP:

We believe that without a pathway to citizenship, undocumented immigrants are constantly exploited by deceptive employment practices and are forced to live under the shadow of threatened deportation.  We stand in support of the many who have had families separated and have become silent victims of unreported crime.  We call on our federal elected representatives to lead the march that will result in our nation adopting policies that support full citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants (that live in this country) within a seven-year time frame that provides for immediate protection from deportation.

As leaders of our Faith communities, we can no longer allow the status quo to exist without being challenged.  To those with great power comes great responsibility!  We, the undersigned, intend to hold accountable those, who have the fiduciary responsibility, by our democratic process, to make policies and decisions that are in the best interest of ALL the people of Philadelphia.

We call for a city of opportunity that works for ALL!

Signed,

Bishop Dwayne D. Royster, Living Water United Church of Christ

Elder Melanie J. DeBouse, Evangel Chapel

Rev. Greg Holston, New Vision UMC

Fr. Sylvester Peterka, C.M., St. Vincent DePaul Catholic Church

Rev Jarrett Kerbel, St Martin in the Fields

Rev. Robin M. Hynicka, Arch Street United Methodist Church

Storm Swain, Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia

Deacon Carol Duncan, St. Martins in the Fields

The Rev. Wil Gafney, Ph.D., The African Episcopal Church of St. Thomas

Rev. Martin Lohrmann, Christ Ascension Lutheran Church

Rev. Frederick Borsch, St. Martin's Chestnut Hill

Fr. Joseph A. Genito, O.S.A., Saint Rita of Cascia

Rabbi Eli Freedman, Congregation Rodeph Shalom

Rev. Chay Oudomkhati, New Life Ministry

Rev. Denise Statham, Living Water UCC

Rev Michele W. Bartlow, Arch Street United Methodist Church

J. Fred Kauffman, West Philadelphia Mennonite Fellowship

Pastor Lorie Hershey, West Philadelphia Mennonite Fellowship

Rabbi Julie Greenberg, Leyv Ha-Ir~Heart of the City

The Rev. Thomas Eoyang, Jr., Grace Epiphany Episcopal Church

Alan Neale, The Church of the Holy Trinity, Rittenhouse Square

The Rev. Dr. Timothy Griffin, St. Luke's, Bustleton and All Saints, Rhawnhurst

Dr. Nelson Rivera, Lutheran Theological Seminary

Rabbi Linda Holtzman, Mishkan Shalom

Rev. Dr. Karyn L. Wiseman, Lutheran Theologica Seminary at Philadelphia

Pearl Johnson, Emmanuel UMC

Rabbi George Stern, Germantown Jewish Centre and Rodeph Shalom

Rev. Lillian Smith, Tindley Temple  UMC

Reverend James M Neal, Pilgrim Community Church, UCC

Rev. Harriet Kollin, St. Martin-in-the-Fields

Minister Stephanie Wooten, Woodcrest United Church of Christ

Rev. Jonathan N. Clodfelter, St. Mark's Church, Frankford

Rev. Ben Krey, Prince of Peace Lutheran Church

Rev. John Pritchard, Calvary United Methodist Church

Rabbi Avi Winokur, Society Hill Synagogue

Rabbi Linda Holtzman, Mishkan Shalom

Sister Kathleen Anderson, Holy Innocents Church

Rev. Patricia Neale, St John's Lutheran Church

Rev. Patricia Ann Davenport, Spirit and Truth Worship Center

Rev. Alfred Day, Pastor, Historic St. Georges United Methodist Church

Rev. Bernard Sejour, Solidarity & Harmony Evangelical Church

Msgr. David Benz, St Therese of the Child Jesus

Father Christopher M. Walsh, St. Raymond of Penafort Catholic Church

Rev. Mary J. Konopka, Redemption Lutheran Church

Bishop Kermi tNewkirk, H. O. D. Church

Pastor Dave Reppert, Emanuel United Church of Christ

Rev. Ernest R. Flores, The Second Baptist Church of Germantown

George B. Moore, St. Benedict Catholic Churcg

Rev. Laurie Andersen, Saints United Lutheran

Dr. Bruce N. Alick, Mt. Zion Baptist Church of Germantown

Rev. Dana Heiserer, St. Petri-Hope Evangelical Lutheran Church

Rev. Zachary Ritvalsky, Sweet Union Baptist Church

Rev. Les Milliner, Calvary United Church of Christ

The Rev. Ledlie I. Laughlin, St. Peter's Episcopal Church

The Rev. Dr. Pamela McAbee Nesbit, St. Paul's Episcopal Church, Doylestown

Rev. James Ley, Archdeacon, Episcopal Diocese of Pa

Fr. Thomas M. Higgins, Holy Innocents Catholic Church

Clifton Daniel, Bishop, Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania

Sr. Maria Lauren Donohue, MSBT

Fr. Martini Shaw, African Episcopal Church of St. Thomas

Rev. John Pidgeon, Epiphany Parish

Rev. Jeffery Haskins, Unity Fellowship of Christ Church Philadelphia

Rev. Claire Nevin-Field, St. Peter's Church (Episcopal)

The Very Rev. Judith A. Sullivan, Philadelphia Episcopal Cathedral

Rev. Sandra J. Brown, Holy Spirit Lutheran Church

Pastor Cean James, Grace Christian Fellowship, UCC

Rev. Dr. Renee McKenzie, Church of the Advocate

Fr. John Olenick, Visitation BVM

Rev. Leslie D. Callahan, St. Paul's Baptist Church

The Rev. W Frank Allen, St David's Radnor

Rabbi Avi Winokur, Society Hill Synagogue

Rabbi Mordechai Liebling, Reconstructionist Rabbinical College

Rabbi Julie Greenberg, Leyv Ha-Ir~Heart of the City

Rev. Msgr. Kevin C. Lawrence, Saint Malachy Roman Catholic Church

Rev. Linda Noonan, Chestnut Hill united Church

The Rev. Dennis Lloyd, Holy Apostles Episcopal

Rev. David A. Canan, Trinity Episcopal Church

Bishop Edward Lee, The Episcopal Church

Rev. Callie Swanlund, Church of St. Martin-in-the-Fields

Rev. Donna Maree, Trinity Memorial Episcopal

Deacon in Training J. Robin Robb, Christ Episcopal Church

Rabbi Linda Holtzman, Mishkan Shalom

Rev. Susan Wargo, Tabernacle United Church

Reverend Deborah A. Wolfe, St. Timothy Lutheran Church

Rev. Andy Kim, 8th Street Community Church

The Rev. Beth Lyon , Glenside United Church of Christ

Rabbi Ellen Weaver, P'nai Or Philadelphia

Rev. Dr. Nancy E. Muth, The First Presbyterian Church in Germantown

Rev. Miki Young, Journeys of the Heart

Rev. Ernest R. Flores, The Second Baptist Church of Germantown

Rev. Geneva M. Butz, Tabernacle United Church

Fr. Terry Highland, Christ Church Pottstown, PA

Rev. Randy Barge, Olney Presbyterian Church

Rev. Dr. Karyn L. Wiseman, Chestnut Hill United Church

Rabbi Lauren Grabelle Herrmann, Kol Tzedek

Claudio Carvalhaes, Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia

Rev. Charlene Brabham, H.O.D. Memorial Baptist Church

Bishop A. Lois Barksdale , Word Alive Worship Center

Minister A. Smith-Brown, Mount Zion Baptist Church (West)

Bishop Kermit Newkik, H.O.D. Church

Rev. Barbara O'Berlton, Mt. Airy COGIC

Rev. Kim Kendrick, Living Water UCC

Pastor Stephen Keiser, Lutheran Church of the Holy Communion

Rev. Judith Youngman, Pennsylvania Southeast Conference United Church of Christ

Rev. Cicely Murray, St. Mary's at the Cathedral

Min.Phillip Harris, Second Pilgrim Baptist Church

Rabbi Annie Lewis, Germantown Jewish Centre

Rev. Cathy Parris, Greater Exodus Baptist

Rev. Ada Brooks, Mt Airy COGIC