Ecumenical Advocacy Days for Global Peace with Justice (EAD) has announced the theme for next year’s national gathering in Washington, D.C. The gathering is titled “Lift Every Voice! – Racism, Class and Power.” The conference will be held April 15-18, 2016 in Arlington, Va., across the Potomac River from the U.S. Capital building.

Ecumenical groups and other religious denominations gather each year in the nation’s capitol to discuss critical issues facing the country. The event marks the 14th annual federal public policy and legislative conference that EAD has hosted. The event concludes with “lobby day” where participants meet on Capitol Hill with a specific ask for their congressional representatives.

“We expect again nearly 1,000 Christian advocates from across the country to attend the gathering,” said Douglas Grace, director of EAD. “Registration is now open at AdvocacyDays.org along with the young adult scholarship application process.”

In its press release, EAD states that in a major US election year, everyone has a voice, especially when lives and the global economy are at stake.

“For generations in this country, social, economic, corporate and political powers have colluded to reduce and eliminate access to voting. Historically, systemic injustice has been carried through poll taxes, unreasonable and egregious voter requirements and violent opposition to calls for justice and change.”

The release states that people are experiencing injustice through voter suppression, police brutality, detention and mass incarceration, “communities of color are under siege: named and unnamed black lives are killed each year by police; immigrants are detained and scapegoated; and public displays of discontent and calls for solidarity are too often met with disregard, suppression or violence.”

“We are challenged as a nation and world by the false construction of race which creates historical barriers to power sharing and disenfranchisement of many ethnic groups,” said the Rev. Dr. J. Herbert Nelson II, director of the PC(USA) Office of Public Witness in Washington, D.C. “It is imperative that the church of Jesus Christ be committed to confronting this reality in the United States and around the globe.”

Nelson said the time of standing silently on the sidelines has passed and now is the time to take action.

“It is important that Christians come together and discuss our being complicit to oftentimes through our silence to policies and issues that marginalize groups of people,” said Nelson. “We must also commit to repentance by speaking truth even at the risk of being misunderstood.”

Each year, the PC(USA) hosts CPJ (Compassion, Peace and Justice) Day, an opportunity for Presbyterians to gather for worship and discussion on the issues prior to the larger EAD gathering. Nelson said work is already underway to prepare for the event.

“The ‘isms’ of our society are real,” said Nelson. “We must declare that it is time for us as people of faith to become real in our efforts to eradicate the ‘isms’ of our society. Too many people are being hurt.”