April 30, 2020
By Aaron Weaver
DECATUR, Ga. — CBF Executive Coordinator Paul Baxley recently joined a diverse coalition of Christian leaders called the Circle of Protection to urge members of the United States Congress to pass a fourth COVID response bill that “addresses the needs of our country’s struggling households” and “gives priority to the swelling ranks of people in poverty.”
“The Circle of Protection has long advocated to support SNAP, international assistance and the lives of immigrants,” the coalition statement reads. “We urge you to pay particular attention to these priorities now. We are committed to uprooting racism’s hold on our society. The crisis of racial injustice often lies in tandem with the crisis of poverty, hunger, incarceration and now COVID-19.”
The coalition statement offers a list of shared policy issues to be included in forthcoming COVID-19 legislation. Learn more here.
“While this pandemic has affected us all, it is increasingly clear that the most devastating impact is upon those living in poverty and most impacted by persistent, systemic racial injustice,” said CBF Executive Coordinator Paul Baxley. “COVID-19 has exacerbated divisions and paralyzing inequities in our world. Within weeks, Congress passed legislation offering relief to many of us. Now it is time for government to take decisive action to offer relief to those most affected.
“After all, the Psalmist prayed thousands of years ago for kings who would ‘defend the cause of the poor of the people and give deliverance to the needy.’ (Psalm 72:4) Jesus called his disciples to join his mission of ‘bringing good news to the poor and release to the captives.’ (Luke 4:16) So in a desire to be faithful to those callings and as a further expression of our Fellowship’s commitment to ministry among those experiencing global poverty and global migration, I join with faith leaders all over the country calling on government to do more for those who suffer most.”
Kasey Jones, associate coordinator of strategic operations and outreach for CBF, emphasized that the COVID-19 crisis demands an attention to caring for those disproportionately impacted.
“CBF is committed to doing its part of the repair work needed from years of systemic racism through the work of the Emmanuel McCall Racial Justice Initiative,” Jones said. “This pandemic compels us to add our voices with our sisters and brothers who are disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. We need our elected official to be intentional about the support offered to the Black community and communities caught in the cycle of poverty.”
Ruben Ortiz, who serves as Latino field coordinator for CBF, encouraged social dialogue and an intentional concern for immigrants in midst of this crisis as the Hispanic population in the United States has surpassed 60 million.
“As faith communities we need to be open to an intense process of social dialogue,” Ortiz said. “Our elected officials must be open to listening and learning and committed to serving the most vulnerable among us in this crucial moment. As Latinos in CBF, we believe that Circle of Protection is the body of Christ that creates an open, honest dialogue about the least among us, and we are proud to be part of it.”
Stephen Reeves, who serves as CBF associate coordinator of partnerships and advocacy, emphasized that CBF Advocacy is focused on finding ways to protect vulnerable children and families.
“CBF Advocacy is committed to advocating for, and alongside, our most vulnerable neighbors,” Reeves said. “Firmly planted in the mission work of our churches and field personnel, we have consistently encouraged advocates within the Fellowship to lift up the concerns of the hungry, the migrant and the financially vulnerable. We’ve also sought to do so in coalition with people of faith across theological and political boundaries.
“We need our elected officials to do more for those most impacted by the coronavirus and the resulting financial crisis who have also been left out of previous emergency legislation. We’re proud to stand with our sisters and brothers in the Circle of Protection in doing so. Now is the time for advocates to demand more from our representatives.”
The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship is a Christian Network that helps people put their faith to practice through ministry efforts, global missions and a broad community of support. The Fellowship’s mission is to serve Christians and churches as they discover and fulfill their God-given mission. Learn more at www.cbf.net.