Obama names 12 to White House faith-based advisory council

WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama has named replacements for half of the one-year positions on his Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships.

Among the 12 appointments announced Feb. 4 was the chair of the council, Susan K. Stern, special adviser on governmental affairs for the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, which is a humanitarian assistance organization.

Another 13 appointees will be named in coming weeks, according to the White House staff.

As with the first members of the council, who were named in February and April 2009, the latest appointees represent a diverse assortment of religious and community organization leaders. Faith-group affiliated leaders again outnumber those from secular service organizations.

They include Episcopal, Lutheran and Greek Orthodox bishops, a rabbi and a Franciscan Sister of Perpetual Adoration who recently was president of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious.

Other appointees represent the United Way Worldwide and policy and advocacy organizations based in North Carolina and California, as well as clergy representing the National Association of Evangelicals, the Willow Creek Community Church and the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches.

The first members of the council produced a 106-page report last March with recommendations for the administration on topics ranging from the placement of religious symbols in locations that offer federally funded social services to how to help build “social cohesion” by promoting understanding of religious diversity. In November, Obama issued a set of executive orders based in part on that report’s recommendations, setting out fundamental principles for all federal agencies in dealing with faith-based and religious organizations.

Of the new appointees, Sister Marlene Weisenbeck finished her term as LCWR president last summer and continues to serve as an officer of the organization. She is also chairwoman of the Catholic Health Association’s sponsorship/canon law committee, according to the White House press release.

Sister Marlene was president of her La Crosse, Wis.-based order from 2002 to 2010 and also has served as chancellor for the La Crosse Diocese and as president of the National Conference of Vicars for Religious.

Outgoing council members also included clergy and community leaders from across a broad spectrum of institutions. Father Larry Snyder, president of Catholic Charities USA, Anthony Picarello, general counsel of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and Arturo Chavez, president and CEO of the Mexican-American Catholic College were on the council.

In addition to Sister Marlene and Stern, the new members include:

– The Rev. Leith Anderson, president of the National Association of Evangelicals.

– Andrea Bazan, president of Triangle Community Foundation, a philanthropic organization dedicated to building a prosperous and culturally rich region across North Carolina.

– Angela Glover Blackwell, founder and CEO of PolicyLink, an Oakland, Calif.-based nonprofit working on economic and social equity, access and opportunity for low-income people, especially in health, housing and education.

– Brian Gallagher, president and CEO of United Way Worldwide.

– Bishop Mark Hanson, presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

– Lynne Hybels, co-founder and advocate for global engagement at the Willow Creek Community Church, a nondenominational Illinois mega-church founded by her husband, Bill.

– Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, the 26th presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, the first woman to head any of the 38 member churches of the world-wide Anglican Communion.

– Rabbi Julie Schonfeld, executive vice president of the Rabbinical Assembly, the international association of Conservative and Masorti Rabbis.

– Metropolitan Demetrios Trakatellis, Greek Orthodox archbishop of America, of the Greek Orthodox Church of America, the exarch of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople in the U.S.A., and the permanent president of the assembly of 65 canonical Orthodox Bishops in North and Central America. As ecumenical patriarch, he is the spiritual leader of more than 1.5 million Greek Orthodox in the United States.

– The Rev. Nancy L. Wilson, moderator for the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches.

Catholic Review

Catholic Review

The Catholic Review is the official publication of the Archdiocese of Baltimore.