Clergy descend on New Orleans to shame Congress
150 clergy from 80 cities are to tour neighbourhoods and churches devastated by Hurricane Katrina in an attempt to shame the US congress into taking action to rebuild the region.
Responding to a plea by Louisiana congregations, religious leaders from across the United States will tour devastated New Orleans neighbourhoods, travelling on buses along with the media.
It comes at a time when the media spotlight is once again falling on the city as it gears up for the election of a new mayor.
As Christians around the world also prepare for Easter, the clergy representing 30 religious denominations say they are bringing a message of hope that with federal support New Orleans can resurrect itself as a safe and vibrant city.
The tour by religious leaders of the most devastated New Orleans neighbourhoods and churches marks the launch of a coordinated national campaign to support Louisiana's request for federal help - which campaigners say is currently held up by Congress.
The Church and neighbourhood tour will begin on Friday morning at Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church/Shrine of St. Jude in New Orleans.
The faith leaders will then hold a press conference to launch the national campaign at a Baptist Church that was devastated by the hurricane.
Mass meetings will follow organized by All Congregations Together with local, state and federal officials. Participants in these meetings will include Archbishop Hughes and leading Catholic and Protestant clergy along with city, state and federal officials.
This meeting marks the culmination of a series of six neighbourhood meetings attended by 1,500 people held at churches across New Orleans over the past two Sundays.
"With recovery stalled and bodies of our loved ones still being found on the streets, we have called our brothers and sisters from across the nation to witness the devastation," said Rev. Donald Robinson, Pastor of Mt. Moriah Baptist Church and a leader of All Congregations Together.
"Their overwhelming response shows that while Louisiana may lack political clout in Washington, we have the moral conscience of the nation on our side."
The campaign is being organised by PICO, a national network of 1,000 religious congregations in 150 cities and 18 states working to revitalize neighbourhoods and strengthen families.