PRESS RELEASE from the Democratic National Convention Committee

August 8, 2008

First-Ever Convention Interfaith Gathering To Feature Diverse Array Of Leaders From The Faith Community

Top National and Local Religious Leaders to Speak
Richard Smallwood & Vision Among Featured Performers

DENVER – The Democratic National Convention Committee (DNCC) announced today the highly-regarded religious leaders and musical artists who will serve as featured speakers and performers at the first-ever Democratic National Convention interfaith gathering, kicking off the 2008 Convention. 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 and The Spirituals Project of Denver.

“Democrats have been, are and will continue to be people of faith – and this interfaith gathering is proof of that,” said Leah D. Daughtry, CEO of the DNCC.  “As Convention CEO and a pastor myself, I am incredibly proud that these 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.”

In addition to building a solid logistical foundation for the Convention, the DNCC has established and strengthened relationships with the Denver community since arriving in town more than one year ago.   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.   

This is the first time a celebration of this nature has been part of a Democratic National Convention. Delegates, elected officials, local residents, musical guests and spiritual leaders from many communities of faith will come together for this unique gathering. In addition to the speakers’ remarks, the program will include readings from diverse religious texts, prayers and musical selections.  

The event is free and open to the public, but tickets are required. Tickets can be obtained by visiting, emailing or calling 720-362-2520. Community groups and faith-based organizations that want to reserve blocks of tickets should fax their request on their organizational letterhead to 202-572-7817. Starting August 15, reserved tickets can be picked up at DNCC offices, with additional information to come upon confirmation.

Organizations and affiliations for the speakers are intended for informational purposes only and do not necessarily convey an endorsement.

Bishop Charles E. Blake
Bishop Charles E. Blake serves as the Seventh Presiding Bishop of the six million member Church of God in Christ.  He is the pastor of West Angeles Church of God in Christ with a membership of over 24,000. West Angeles is deeply involved in providing not only for the spiritual life of its people, but also it provides more than 80 programs for the psychological, social, and economic enhancement of the community.  As founder and CEO of Save Africa's Children, Bishop Blake oversees the support of more than 200,000 children, in 400 orphan care programs, throughout more than 23 nations on the continent of Africa.  

Dr. Ingrid Mattson
Dr. Ingrid Mattson is Director of the Macdonald Center for the Study of Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations at Hartford Seminary in Hartford, CT.  A native of Canada, Dr. Mattson has traveled the world and lived in Pakistan where she worked with Afghan refugee women.  In 2001 she was elected Vice-President of ISNA and in 2006 she was elected President of the organization. Dr. Mattson is the first woman and the first convert to Islam to lead the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA).

Sister Helen Prejean
Sister Helen Prejean joined the Sisters of St. Joseph in 1957 and began her prison ministry in 1981 when she dedicated her life to the poor of New Orleans.  From these experiences Sister Helen wrote a bestselling book titled, “Dead Man Walking: An Eyewitness Account of the Death Penalty in the United States,” which appeared on the New York Times Best Seller List for 31 weeks.

Rabbi Dr. Tzvi Hersh Weinreb
Rabbi Dr. Tzvi Hersh Weinreb has been executive vice president of the Orthodox Union since January, 2002. In that role, he heads the multi-purpose agency which represents and serves Orthodox Jewry through hundreds of synagogues across North America and beyond.  Rabbi Weinreb is a vice-president of the Rabbinical Council of America and past chair of its annual convention.
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