The heads of the National Association of Evangelicals and The Episcopal Church are among those newly named to President Barack Obama's faith advisory council.
Obama announced on Friday his intent to appoint a dozen religious and secular leaders, including NAE president Leith Anderson and Episcopal Presiding Bishop the Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori.
"I am grateful for the opportunity to be of service to the larger community in this way," Jefferts Schori said in a statement. "The ability to build partnerships between civic and religious bodies can only expand our capacity to heal a broken world."
It's been nearly a year since his first Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships ended its one-year term. The 2009-2010 council consisted of 25 diverse religious figures, including Richard Stearns, president of World Vision United; Frank Page, former Southern Baptist Convention president; Eboo Patel, director of Interfaith Youth Core; and Harry Knox, director of the Religion and Faith Program at the Human Rights Campaign.
Obama has again tapped into a diverse group this year.
Some of the other appointees include Lynne Hybels, co-founder of Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, Ill.; Susan Stern, special adviser on Government Affairs to the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee; Archbishop Demetrios Trakatellis, Archbishop of the Greek Orthodox Church of America; and the Rev. Elder Nancy L. Wilson, moderator for the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches.
"I am pleased to announce that these experienced and committed individuals have agreed to join this Administration, and I look forward to working with them in the months and years ahead," Obama stated.
The White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships was established in February 2009. The council brings together religious and secular leaders as well as scholars and experts in fields related to the work of faith-based and neighborhood organizations in order to make recommendations to the government on how to improve partnerships.
Last March, the council provided Obama with more than 60 recommendations about how the administration can collaborate with the faith community on everything from social issues to international perception.
While acknowledging their diversity, the advisers said they were able to find common ground while working together for a year. But some were less eager to report on the effectiveness of the council. Page mentioned that "you had to leave your faith at the door in a lot of these discussions."
Others named to the council so far:
Andrea Bazán, president of Triangle Community Foundation
Angela Glover Blackwell, CEO of Policy Link
Brian Gallagher, president and CEO of United Way Worldwide
Bishop Mark Hanson, presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Rabbi Julie Schonfeld, executive vice president of the Rabbinical Assembly
Sister Marlene Weisenbeck, member of the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration Additional members to the new advisory council will be announced at a later date. Christian Post