12-3-12 ‘People Before Politics’ to convene conversation about fiscal cliff

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Charleston, W.Va. — Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-WV) will meet with West Virginia’s religious leaders Monday, December 3, at the John XXIII Pastoral Center on Hodges Road in Charleston.

Participants will hear from everyday families about what is at stake in the current federal budget debate in Washington. Senator Manchin will have the opportunity to respond about what he will do to put West Virginia families before partisan politics.

“Lost in the national debate are the voices of hard-working Americans who want nothing more than to feed their kids, keep their jobs, and get a fair shot,” said Stephen N. Smith, executive director of the West Virginia Healthy Kids and Families Coalition, which is lead sponsor for the event. “On Dec. 3, with help from religious leaders, we want to bring the voices of the poor and working people to the fore.”

Manchin will hear from Bishop Sandra Steiner Ball, resident bishop of the West Virginia Conference of the United Methodist Church, Bishop Michael Bransfield of the Catholic Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, and Bishop Ralph Dunkin of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, West Virginia-Western Maryland Synod. The senator will also hear testimonies from West Virginia families who will be affected by the loss of federal programs and benefits including CHIP, Medicaid, Pell grants and the child tax credit.

The bishops believe that their faith traditions, especially during the holiday season, demand compassionate action.

“It is my hope that we speak to the grief and anguish of the poor among us,” Bishop Bransfield said, “especially the experience of our children and families in poverty. Along with other religious leaders in West Virginia, we will ask our legislators in Washington to speak a compassionate message of joy and hope while crafting legislation that could affect so many.”

Bishop Steiner Ball, who began her official duties as spiritual leader for United Methodists in West Virginia September 1, believes that eradicating child poverty in West Virginia is a priority. “The Church needs to bear witness in this time of uncertainty,” she said “We have a responsibility to care for and protect the poor.”

West Virginia’s Congressional delegation has been invited, as well as every member of the West Virginia Legislature and local dignitaries.

The reception begins at 9:30 a.m.

The event is sponsored by the West Virginia Healthy Kids and Families Coalition, the West Virginia Council of Churches, the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, the West Virginia Conference of the United Methodist Church, and the National Association of Social Workers (WV Chapter). For more information, or to co-sponsor or RSVP for this important event, please contact WV Healthy Kids and Families Director Stephen Smith at ssmith@wvhealthykids.org. Free and open to the public.  Please note this event has been organized on extremely short notice to accommodate the Congressional calendar; we appreciate your help posting, reproducing, and e-mailing this flyer. John XXIII Pastoral Center is at 100 Hodges Road, Charleston.

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