Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Grappling with health care and unemployment: ‘We can achieve against the greatest odds,’ Fattah says

Eight term congressman addresses audience at The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia

PHILADELPHIA, PA (February 22, 2010) U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah (D-PA2) told a Northwest Philadelphia audience today he believes a comprehensive health care initiative will come to a final vote in the U.S. Congress within six weeks and said that tens of thousands of faith-based leaders have been expressing concern about enacting a health plan that includes all Americans.

The eight-term congressman addressed a large audience of students, faculty and staff members, and community residents and organization leaders in Benbow Hall at The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia.

Fattah said the failure to enact a comprehensive plan is a drag on the economy and connected to the nations overall economic challenges because industries like automobile manufacturers need to continue to provide health care benefits, while their competitors in other nations like Japan do not have this financial burden. Other nations have been able to work out a solution, Fattah said, while seven of our presidents have not been successful. He suggested that the lack of success leaves the impression that either we do not have the brains to get it done, or we dont have the political will. He said that as I speak the latest version of a proposed comprehensive health plan was being unveiled on the White House Web site prior to a bipartisan conversation on the plan set for Thursday, Feb. 25. (at right: Congressman Fattah with (from left) LTSP Professors Richard Stewart and Wil Gafney, and LTSP President Philip Krey)

Fattah said there has been a 12 point positive swing in the nations Gross Domestic Product (GDP) since U.S. President Barack Obama took office a year Regional home sales and purchase orders are up, he said. But he added that even though earnings reports are improved, business activity has been increasing and consumer spending is stronger, economic growth is not the same as full employment, and we have been experiencing a massive hemorrhaging of jobs. It will take a significant effort to have job growth. He noted that life is getting better for many of Philadelphias 1,300 manufacturing businesses, but that the jobs market is always lagging at the rear end of the recovery train. He praised the current administrations Stimulus Recovery initiative and said that no economist will say that a recovery is possible without one. Meanwhile, he said, $18 billion in recovery money has been committed to the people of Pennsylvania, one-half of the federal dollars going directly to industry and a significant amount going toward food assistance that now one in four American families use. Significant funds have also helped people pay for health benefits lost due to unemployment.

He said President Obama has been committed to a strategy to spend money to assure that Americans can do work that needs to be done in the nation. Among examples he gave were investments of $320 million for the Philadelphia School District and $190 million to support the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) to rebuild its infrastructure via 33 projects. Funds have also been made available through the stimulus package to retrofit public buildings to cut energy costs and to train individuals to know how to weatherize such buildings. There are tens of thousands of projects like this across the country, Fattah said. He said such endeavors are examples of a different level of thinking to solve our problems than what has been used before. And he predicted that looking back on this time in U.S. history will indicate that such intervention was wise. Still, he said, unemployment is at 9.7 percent. Male workers and the construction trades have been the hardest hit in the nation, but we are on a more positive pathway than a year ago.

Speaking to an audience largely consisting of theological students, Fattah said the current administration is trying to strengthen the countrys moral compass so central to every faith in the way we conduct our public affairs. We have a responsibility to be our brothers keeper and not just curse the darkness but to light a candle. He added that during times of adversity each person has the opportunity to be introduced anew to his or her self and by doing so achieve against the greatest odds. We cant assume greatness or a high standard of living. We have to redouble our efforts. He tied future productivity to the nations efforts to successfully educate our youngest citizens. We must produce the engineers to assure that we can get products to the marketplace 30 or 40 years from now. He said the poverty challenging the nations cities is directly tied to the lack of education among some city populations. He appealed to the audience to avoid the passivity so evident among much of the nations electorate and challenged his listeners to be more involved in the political debate surrounding issues like health care.

In response to several questions, Fattah called the decision to intervene in Iraq the worst decision possible and said it had drained the nation of resources that might have been used elsewhere. He praised the plan to have time limits on involvements in Iraq and Afghanistan, and added that there is no military solution possible in the Middle East. It is a matter of deciding when to get parties to the negotiating table and who those parties will be.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Preaching with Power coming March 7-11

For the 28th year, five sermons and one lecture by six distinguished African American preachers and theologians, and a celebration of black sacred music comprise Preaching with Power: A Forum on Black Preaching and Theology. Preaching with Power is a program of the Urban Theological Institute (UTI) of The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia (LTSP).

Local churches in the Philadelphia community host the evening worship services, plus the lecture and music celebration held on the LTSP campus in the Mt. Airy section of Philadelphia. All are welcome! Come and be inspired! The worship offering proceeds go to The Rev. Dr. Joseph Q. Jackson Endowed Scholarship Fund, which benefits UTI students.

Dates and preachers/programs for 2010 are:

Sunday – March 7, 2010, 7:30 pm, UTI Alumni Night, The Rev. Joseph Conner, preaching at LTSP Shaeffer-Ashmead Chapel, 7301 Germantown Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19119

Monday – March 8, 2010, 7:30 pm, The Rev. Dr. Wayne E. Croft, Sr., preaching at Grace Baptist Church of Germantown, 25 West Johnson Street, Philadelphia, PA 19144

Tuesday – March 9, 2010, 11:30 am, Preaching with Power Lecture, The Rev. Dr. Cleophus J. LaRue, lecturer, LTSP The Brossman Center, 7301 Germantown Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19119

Tuesday – March 9, 2010, 7:30 pm, Bishop Stephen G. Marsh, preaching at Church of St. John the Evangelist, 1332 South Third Street, Philadelphia, PA 19147

Wednesday – March 10, 2010, 11:30 am, A Celebration of Black Sacred Music! at LTSP Shaeffer-Ashmead Chapel, 7301 Germantown Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19119

Wednesday – March 10, 2010, 7:30 pm, Bishop J. W. Macklin, preaching at Mt. Airy Church of God in Christ, 6401 Ogontz Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19150

Thursday – March 11, 2010, 7:30 pm, The Rev. Kim Anderson, preaching at St. Matthew AME Church, 215 North Fifty-Seventh Street, Philadelphia, PA 19139

The week will conclude with a Prospective Student Day on Saturday, March 13 starting at 8:30 am on the LTSP campus. Is God calling you? Come and See what is available for you at LTSP!

For more information on Preaching with Power, including venue directions and preacher profiles, and to register for Prospective Student Day, go to the seminary Web site: www.Ltsp.edu.

About the UTI: The Urban Theological Institute (UTI) of The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia, celebrating 30 years, is dedicated to providing theological education to church leaders that is relevant and upbuilding for the African American community. The UTI sponsors Preaching with Power, a series of public lectures and several certificate programs for lay church leasers, as well as academic programs to prepare MDiv, MAR and DMin credentialed leaders for the black church. UTI Director The Rev. Dr. Quintin Robertson can be reached at qrobertson@Ltsp.edu or call 215-248-7324.

About LTSP: One of eight seminaries certified by the 4.6-million-member Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), LTSP (www.Ltsp.edu) has prepared well over 4,000 church leaders during its history. The school has been located on its Mt. Airy campus in Philadelphia since 1888 and has embraced seminarians from some 30 Christian traditions. Its 30-year-old Urban Theological Institute has prepared scores of African American leaders for church service in the Greater Philadelphia area.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

LTSP named a 2009 Tree Campus USA University

The Arbor Day Foundation has honored The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia (LTSP) as a 2009 Tree Campus USA university for its dedication to campus forestry management and environmental stewardship.

LTSP is the second higher education institution in Pennsylvania to be named a Tree Campus USA University.

“The Tree Campus USA program will have a long-lasting impact at The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia as it engages seminarians and local citizens to plant trees and create healthier communities for people to enjoy for decades to come,” said John Rosenow, chief executive of the Arbor Day Foundation. “The seminary will benefit from exceptional tree-care practices on campus as it works with tree-care professionals in the community to improve the tree canopy in Philadelphia.”

Tree Campus USA, a national program launched in 2008 by the Arbor Day Foundation, honors colleges and universities and the leaders of the campus and surrounding communities for promoting healthy urban forest management and engaging the campus community in environmental stewardship. Tree Campus USA is supported by a grant from Toyota.

LTSP met the required five core standards of tree care and community engagement in order to receive Tree Campus USA status. Those standards are: establishing a campus tree advisory committee; evidence of a campus tree-care plan; verification of dedicated annual expenditures on the campus tree-care plan; involvement in an Arbor Day observance; and the institution of a service-learning project aimed at engaging the student body.

LTSP Horticulturalist and Grounds Manager Keith Lingenfelter noted, “This honor recognizes one of the important efforts we as a seminary community are making to help preserve and enhance our campus trees and green spaces. I feel privileged to be a part of this process and thank all those involved, especially the Arbor Day Foundation for creating such a wonderful program.”

The Arbor Day Foundation launched Tree Campus USA in the fall of 2008 by planting trees at nine college campuses throughout the United States. More information about the Tree Campus USA program is available at www.arborday.org/TreeCampusUSA. Learn more about the seminary's Green Campus Initiative at www.Ltsp.edu/GreenTeam.

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About the Arbor Day Foundation: The Arbor Day Foundation is a nonprofit conservation organization of nearly one million members, with a mission to inspire people to plant, nurture, and celebrate trees. More information on the Foundation and its programs can be found at arborday.org.

Congressman Fattah to address economic recovery issues, field questions at Lutheran Seminary

Congressman Chaka Fattah - Official House PhotographCongressman to appear at 10 am Monday, February 22

What are the goals of the federal Economic Recovery program, and what progress is being made on the jobs and economic fronts both nationally and in the Philadelphia region? What is the impact on local neighborhoods, and how can those communities and their citizens both benefit from and be resources to the program and the people affected by it?

Those issues and more will be addressed by U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah (D-PA2) at 10 am Monday February 22 in Benbow Hall on the campus of The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia (LTSP), 7301 Germantown Avenue in the Mt. Airy section of Philadelphia. The event is free and open to the public, and will feature a question and answer session at the conclusion of Fattah’s remarks.

The congressman is expected to share his perspective gleaned from chairing the bipartisan Congressional Urban Caucus, which advocates for issues of special concern to our cities and metropolitan areas, and where he has been in a position to review the economic climate and struggles unique to America’s urban poor.

Congressman Fattah is serving his eighth term representing the 2nd District of Pennsylvania, covering parts of Philadelphia and Montgomery County, including the city’s northwest neighborhoods.

In addition to the Urban Caucus, he is a member of the House Appropriations Committee and three of its subcommittees. He’s Philadelphia born and educated, and served 12 years as a State Representative and Senator before election to Congress in 1994. He is an outspoken advocate for public education, especially for leveling the playing field for underserved public school students and underfunded school systems.

Fattah was appointed to chair the Urban Caucus by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. In that role he has been charged with leadership to craft an urban agenda on public safety, employment, education, transportation, housing and health while working to strengthen the nation’s infrastructure. A key objective is to develop legislation to advance the development of strong, economically vibrant metropolitan areas.

As part of his advocacy for public education, he was the architect for GEAR UP (Giving Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs), aimed at providing equal opportunities for education for the disadvantaged. It is the largest pre-college awareness program in the nation’s history. Fattah has also spearheaded some $24 million in scholarship assistance for deserving students in the region.

The seminary invited Fattah to speak on its campus “because his concerns and priorities match the seminary’s mission to serve the community,” said the Rev. Dr. Philip D. W. Krey, LTSP’s president.

Among its community-based initiatives, LTSP, founded in 1864 to prepare professional church leaders, provides summer housing for people in need in connection with the Northwest Philadelphia Interfaith Hospitality Network. The school also offers a graduate degree program in public leadership in consultation with Temple University, and hosts classes on its campus from the Community College of Philadelphia.