In one of his first major sermons since becoming general secretary of the National Council of Churches of Christ (USA), clergyman and former politician Robert Edgar renewed his call for America's faith community to tackle the issue of poverty.Speaking on July 30 at the interdenominational Riverside Church in New York City, Edgar said the nation's religious institutions must unite in common cause to bring about economic justice for those who had not enjoyed the benefits of what had become a period of almost unparalleled economic prosperity in the U.S."God is calling all of us to struggle with this issue," said Edgar, a former congressman from the state of Pennsylvania who took over the helm of the nation's biggest ecumenical agency earlier this year.Noting that he was speaking from the pulpit from which Martin Luther King had preached before his assassination in 1968, Edgar said a renewed sense of urgency was required to galvanize the nation and its religious institutions over the growing economic disparity between rich and poor."Martin Luther King had a sense of the 'urgency of now'," Edgar said. "How do we give voice to the voiceless? How do we give power to the powerless?"The issue of poverty and economic justice has taken increased prominence for the National Council of Churches (NCC) under Edgar's leadership. In February, Edgar was one of 50 U.S. religious leaders who signed, on behalf of their organizations and agencies, a "Covenant to Overcome Poverty", sponsored by Call to Renewal, a faith-based, social-action alliance which wants to put the issue of poverty on the national agenda.A month later, Edgar joined other religious leaders in calling for an increase in the rate of the U.S. minimum wage by 2001, an increase ...

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