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President Obama Appoints Joshua DuBois as Director of Faith-Based Office

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Last week, President Barack Obama appointed Joshua DuBois, a 26-year old pastor and Boston University graduate, to head the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, formerly the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives (OFBCI). The Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships was created to help both religious and secular organizations focused on community outreach make an impact in their communities.

While the whole idea of a faith-based office isn’t a new idea (President Bush established the OFBCI in 2001), appointing such a young person to chair it is a “radical” idea. Not only will Joshua DuBois work directly with the President on faith-based efforts, he will also chair a new President’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, composed of twenty-five religious and secular leaders and scholars from various background. There are some impressive names on this list, including Rev. Jim Wallis (President & Executive Director of Sojourners), Richard Stearns (President of World Vision), Judith N. Vredenburg (President and Chief Executive Officer of Big Brothers / Big Sisters of America) and Father Larry J. Snyder (President of Catholic Charities USA).

What message is Obama conveying to America, and the world, by choosing Mr. DuBois, a young former-associate pastor, as his campaign religious director, and then to chair this influential Office? Werner Erhard once said, “Create your future from your future, not your past.” I think that that’s what President Obama is trying to teach us. It’s time to try new things, and give a new generation of leaders a voice in our ever-changing world. Communities are facing issues and problems now that, in some cases, they never faced before. With his backgrounds in politics, religion and academia, I imagine that DuBois will be able to bring a fresh perspective to the situation at hand to help organizations serve their communities better.

In closing, I think that we should also take time to look at another important facet of the newly revamped Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships: community effort. President Obama isn’t drawing lines between religious and secular organizations, nor does he plan to favor one religion over another. In this time of great need and distress, a call has been raised for all people of all beliefs to come together for the greater, common good.

We have our first African-American President. There is a young, black man running an Office geared towards bringing people together in communities to serve each other as we struggle to survive in the midst of trying times. If you can’t see it, you must be blind. In the words of Martin Luther King, Jr., “This call for a worldwide fellowship that lifts neighborly concern beyond one's tribe, race, class, and nation is in reality a call for an all-embracing and unconditional love for all mankind.”