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California Churches Unite to End Poverty

October 17, 2008

This weekend, religious congregations around California are uniting to draw attention to the needs of the state's 1.7 million poor children, especially in light of the current economic downturn. It's part of the 17th annual "National Observance of Children's Sabbaths," observed by thousands of churches, synagogues, mosques, temples and other places of worship.

In California, nearly one in five children lives in poverty. Saudeka Shabazz with the Children's Defense Fund says this year's theme will focus on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s goal to end poverty in America.

"Doctor King's call was to end this culture of violence, militarism, and excessive materialism. Basically, the ills in our society are not creating the environment that children require to grow and thrive."

Shabazz says, after improvements in the child poverty statistics since the 1960s, the past decade saw a 15 percent increase in the number of children living in poverty.

This is the second year in a row the Culver-Palms United Methodist Church will participate in the Children's Sabbath commemoration. Tonight's event will include a reenactment of the "Stone Soup" fable, which Pastor Rich Bolin calls a metaphor, for how we should behave as a community during these hard economic times.

"I think that's what it's all about - for us to not be hoarding, to not be fearful and shut inside, but rather to have open hands and, when we're generous with one another, to find out there's an abundance for all."

More information on the observance is available online at www.cdfca.org.

Lori Abbott/Chris Thomas, Public News Service - CA