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Saperstein to open Obama’s big night

Democrats have announced that Rabbi David Saperstein, director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, will deliver the invocation the night Barack Obama accepts the Democratic nomination for president. The party has also announced its first “Faith Caucus” with a number of religion-related discussions throughout their week in Denver, and rabbis including Northern Virginians Amy Schwartzman and Jack Moline, Steven Foster of Denver, Marc Schneier of the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding, Steve Gutow from the Jewish Council for Public Affairs and Orthodox Union executive vice president Tzvi Hersh Weinreb – who will keynote Sunday’s kickoff “Interfaith Gathering.” Here’s the press release:


First-Ever Faith Caucus Meetings to be Held at Democratic Convention

Invocators and Benedictors to Include Pastor Joel Hunter, Rabbi David Saperstein, Sister Catherine Pinkerton, Reverend Cynthia Hale, Archbishop Demetrios, Cameron Strang

Plus Coloradans Polly Baca of Greeley, CO, Reverends Kang of Aurora, CO

Interfaith Gathering to Open Convention Week on Sunday, Aug. 24th,
featuring Local Clergy Imam Abdur-Rahim Ali, Rabbi Steve Foster, Reverend Lucia Guzman, University of Colorado Student Kathryn Ida

DENVER – In keeping with Barack Obama’s personal commitment and the commitment of
the Democratic Party to put faith in action, the Democratic National Convention
Committee (DNCC) and the Obama for America campaign today announced that the 2008
Democratic National Convention will recognize the tireless efforts of those in the
faith community working toward the common good.

“Senator Obama is a committed Christian, and he believes that people of all faiths
have an important place in American life,” said Joshua Dubois, Obama For America
Director of Religious Affairs. “He’s proud to work with the Democratic National
Convention Committee on a Convention that fully engages people of faith in dialogue,
celebration and prayer. We are honored that so many religious leaders are reaching
across partisan and ideological lines in this Convention to address the values that
matter to Americans.”

“Democrats have been, are and will continue to be people of faith – and this Convention will demonstrate that in an unprecedented way,” said Leah D. Daughtry, CEO of the DNCC. “As Convention CEO and a pastor myself, I am incredibly proud that so many esteemed leaders from the faith community will be with us to celebrate this historic occasion and honor the diverse faith traditions inside the Democratic Party.”

Each night of the Convention, the official program will begin with an invocation and end with a benediction delivered by a national faith leader or an individual who is active in their local faith community. Among the group selected to deliver these opening and closing prayers are a Republican pastor of a leading Evangelical church in central Florida, a major young Evangelical leader, a nun from a diocese in Cleveland and a Methodist couple, both ordained ministers from Arvada, CO.

National leaders from a range of denominations will host the Convention’s first-ever Faith Caucus meetings during the week where they will discuss bringing people of faith together to address some of the most pressing issues of our time.

On Tuesday, August 26, the Faith Caucus will hold two panel discussions – “Common Ground on Common Good,” an opportunity to discuss finding common ground on the moral issues of the day, and “Faith in 2009: How an Obama Administration will Engage People of Faith.” On Thursday, August 28, the Caucus will convene for “Moral Values Issues Abroad,” a panel on how the faith community can work together to address pressing moral issues around the world, and “Getting Out the Faith Vote,” a session on how to appropriately engage communities of faith in the 2008 election.

In addition, a first-ever Democratic National Convention interfaith gathering will kick off the week, bringing delegates, elected officials, local residents, musical guests and spiritual leaders from many communities of faith together for a unique gathering. In addition to keynote remarks, the program will include readings from diverse religious texts, prayers and musical selections.

Monday, August 25
Invocation Polly Baca, Catholic, Greeley, CO
Benediction Cameron Strang, Evangelical, Orlando, FL

Tuesday, August 26
Invocation Dr. Cynthia Hale, Disciples of Christ, Decatur, GA
Benediction Revs. Jin Ho Kang and Young Sook Kang, Methodist, Aurora, CO

Wednesday, August 27
Invocation Archbishop Demetrios, Greek Orthodox, New York, NY
Benediction Sr. Catherine Pinkerton, Catholic, Cleveland, OH

Thursday, August 28
Invocation Rabbi David Saperstein, Union for Reform Judaism,
Washington, DC
Benediction Pastor Joel Hunter, Evangelical, Northland, FL


Tuesday, August 26

Common Ground on Common Good


12:00 PM MT


Colorado Convention Center


Rev. Jim Wallis

Dr. Douglas W. Kmiec
Rabbi Jack Moline
Rev. Jennifer Kottler
Bishop Wilfredo DeJesus
Rev. John Hunter

Faith in 2009: How an Obama Administration will Engage People of Faith
1:00 PM MT

Colorado Convention Center

Rev. Jim Wallis

Rabbi David Saperstein
Prof. John Dilulio
Rev. Otis Moss, Jr.

Thursday, August 28
Moral Values Issues Abroad

12:00 PM MT

Colorado Convention Center

Joshua Dubois, OFA Director of Religious Affairs


Dr. Preeta Bansal
Dr. David Gushee
Sr. Simone Campbell
Dr. Claude d’Estree

Getting Out the Faith Vote


1:00 PM MT

Colorado Convention Center

Joshua Dubois, OFA Director of Religious Affairs

Rev. Romal Tune
Mark Linton
Rev. C Welton Gaddy
Rev. Dr. Barbara Williams-Skinner
Rabbi Steve Gutow

**Initial caucus program line-ups. Additional participants to be released.


The interfaith gathering will be held at 2:00 pm MT, Sunday, August 24 at the Wells
Fargo Theater, inside the Colorado Convention Center in Denver.

Bishop Charles E. Blake, Presiding Prelate of the Church of God In Christ, Inc. and
pastor at the West Angeles Church of God in Christ; Dr. Ingrid Mattson, President of
the Islamic Society of North America; social activist Sister Helen Prejean and Rabbi
Tzvi Weinreb, Executive Vice President of the Orthodox Union, will keynote the
event. Musical selections will be performed by Grammy® award winning gospel artist
Richard Smallwood & Vision, The Spirituals Project of Denver and The Trinity United
Methodist Church Choir.

Along with remarks from Colorado Governor Bill Ritter, Jr., members of the local
clergy community will also be featured at the gathering. Imam Abdur-Rahim Ali of
the Northeast Denver Islamic Center, Rabbi Steven Foster from Congregation Emmanuel,
lifelong Democratic leader Polly Baca, human rights leader Reverend Lucia Guzman and
Buddhist participant and University of Colorado Denver student Kathryn Ida will be
part of the local faith community represented at the event.