Print By Guy Taylor – The Washington Times – Monday, December 30, 2019 NEW YORK — Faith leaders from dozens of nations gathered here over the weekend to promote unity, imploring each other to see diversity not as a stumbling block, but as the “cornerstone” for developing a peace that can elevate nations and its…
President Trump’s personal spiritual adviser Paula White-Cain called for the leaders to push past barriers that have divided denominations for far too long.
“When we come into unity, we can shake nations,” she said to rousing applause from hundreds of pastors, reverends, bishops and others assembled Friday at the opening of the two-day summit in the renown Hammerstein and Grand ballrooms of the Manhattan Center in midtown Manhattan.
The presence of Ms. White-Cain at the summit — titled the Inaugural Convocation of World Clergy Leadership Conference and inclusive of all denominations, evangelical or not — brought a sense of connectivity with American political power. Ms. White-Cain’s participation came against a backdrop of Mr. Trump’s own efforts to unify U.S. evangelicals around his run for a second term.
Others who spoke Friday with no affiliation to Mr. Trump drew focus to a subject long-contemplated by some theologians: How to positively embrace pluralism in religion as a divine bedrock for promoting harmony and equanimity in the world, rather than allow it to be a source of acrimonious division.
“The challenge for us here today is to use this cornerstone of God’s universal design to build a unified and peaceable world,” said Rev. Penial Jesudason Rufus Rajkumar. “But this task is rendered all the more difficult in a context today, where religions have often been violently recruited as an ally of divisive and discriminatory forces.”
“We are here to fight this together,” said the Rev. Rajkumar, a representative from the World Council of Churches in Geneva, Switzerland. The organization has 350 member churches spanning dozens of Christian denominations across 110 countries, but is vigorously independent of association with any political party or political leader.
The WCC was just one among many faith organizations represented at the Inaugural Convocation of World Clergy Leadership Conference in Manhattan, an event that set in motion what organizers described as new international association of faith leaders backed by the Universal Peace Federation, Family Federation International and the American Clergy Leadership Conference — a multidenominational organization with more than 12,000 affiliated clergy from all 50 U.S. states.
Friday’s gathering was followed by a massive peace rally on Saturday that was attended by tens of thousands from churches around the greater New York City area, as well as from around the nation, who packed into the Prudential Center arena in Newark, New Jersey.
White-Cain drew a hush over Friday’s gathering by speaking frankly about the history of her relationship with the president, telling the crowd she first met Mr. Trump nearly two decades ago.
“I get on the line and he said, ‘You’re fantastic, you have the ‘it factor,’” she told the summit in Manhattan, adding to laughter that she responded to Mr. Trump: “‘Oh sir, we call that the anointing.’”
During that first call, Ms. White-Cain said, Mr. Trump “repeated to me three of my sermons almost verbatim. At the time, my church was a little under 20-something-thousand members and we had thousands of churches under us, and I thought to myself, ‘he listens better than most of my congregation!’”
“The lord spoke to me and said, show [Mr. Trump] who I am, and I just thought it was an assignment from God to simply live as a Christian and show the love of God to him,” Ms. White-Cain said.
“I had no idea 18 years later what that would hold,” she said, recalling that on just their second meeting in New York, where she was famously involved at the time in leading a Bible study for the New York Yankees, that she told Mr. Trump: “‘Sir, I don’t want your money, I have enough of my own. I don’t want your fame, I have enough of my own.’”
“I said, ‘I want your soul,’ and I walked out — and I just think he thought I was crazy enough or either God really anointed me,” she said, drawing laughter and applause from the faith leaders gathered on Friday.
“We continued to build relationships with him, his family, his staff, praying, meeting, doing Bible studies and, more than anything, living out the love of God,” Ms. White-Cain added. “Many, many years later, he would say: ‘Paula, would you come pray? I’m thinking about running for president.’”
In November, the Trump administration announced that it had officially hired her to advise the president’s “Faith and Opportunity Initiative.”
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