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Faith-based leadership summit slated April 25 in Washington

WASHINGTON (BP)–House Republican Conference Chairman J.C. Watts and Senate Republican Conference Chairman Rick Santorum will host the first national House-Senate Faith-Based Leadership Summit April 25 in Washington. The summit will feature members of Congress, the Bush Administration and several hundred faith-based and community leaders from across the country.

“I am excited about meeting with hundreds of faith-based practitioners and community leaders to discuss how the public and private sectors can work together to extend services and a helping hand to the poor and needy of this country,” said Watts, of Oklahoma.

Watts and Santorum, of Pennsylvania, are two key congressional proponents of President Bush’s call for government responsiveness to faith-based initiatives.

“I am optimistic that we can have an honest and open dialogue that will put us on the path to a day when government encourages the good deeds of the faith community and views them as a partner in the wars against poverty, teen pregnancy and other social ills,” Watts, a former Southern Baptist youth minister, said.

Santorum said the summit will facilitate “a national dialogue between lawmakers, the faith-based community and the public about faith-based initiatives and the role of charitable organizations in helping those in need.”

“It is essential that lawmakers work with faith-based and community leaders from across the country to explore ways to effectively address the most difficult challenges of the 21st century, such as strengthening families, expanding economic opportunity, ensuring educational opportunities for all Americans, and replicating successful faith-based and community initiatives,” Santorum said.

The summit will include breakout sessions focusing on key legislative initiatives and successful faith-based models; a luncheon featuring keynote speeches by members of Congress, the Bush Administration, clergy and community leaders; and other events throughout the day. In addition, the luncheon will be beamed live via satellite to “Downlink Events” in over 30 states, and will be shown live on the Internet at http://www.senate.gov/~src/faithbase.ram.

For more information on the Faith-Based Leadership Summit, visit the Summit’s web site at http://www.gop.gov/faithbasedsummit/

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